Yesterday, I attended a Westminster Hall debate on the Home Office and the case of the Shrewsbury 24. This follows over 40 years of campaigning by those unjustly prosecuted following the first ever national building worker strike in 1972.
They picketed building sites in Shrewsbury and were prosecuted in 1973. They became known as the Shrewsbury 24. Some of those 24 live in Flintshire.
Six of the pickets were imprisoned. Their crime was to be part of a trade union campaign to get a decent rate of pay and safer working conditions for all building workers. The most notable picketer that was unjustly prosecuted was Ricky Tomlinson.
Many of the picketers were blacklisted and never worked again. This miscarriage of justice has continued for over 40 years, but is finally coming to a head with an application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission currently being considered.
However, new information came to light showing that the Government of the day encouraged a negative smear campaign through the media. There are reports that link officials in high office of agreeing to facilitate this campaign against the Shrewsbury 24.
For too long the Government has dragged its heels on releasing the remaining papers. Last year the House of Commons voted overwhelmingly for action to be taken by the Government. Yet still nothing has been done.
The papers were due to be published in 2012, but the new Government of the time rescinded this promise. I have been fighting for the release of the remaining evidence for years. There are well respected and loved members of our local community who still, after 40 arduous years, are living every day with a miscarriage of justice.
New information that came to light during yesterday’s debate is deeply concerning. Not only does it point to discrepancies between what was said by authorities at the time and what actually happened. It indicates that the highest officials in the land used their powers to influence the independent judicial process. I will continue to fight for the Shrewsbury 24 so they can finally get justice.