'Shrewsbury 24': MPs vote for release of government papers

image copyrightChris Gregory
image captionA 100,000-signature petition was delivered to Downing Street in December by a group including actor Ricky Tomlinson

MPs have voted "overwhelmingly" in favour of urging the government to release papers on a 1972 strike which led to six pickets being jailed, among them actor Ricky Tomlinson.

Campaigners want to quash convictions against 24 men who were accused of violent picketing and intimidating workers in Shropshire, in 1972.

MPs voted by 120 to three to call on the government to release the papers.

Campaigners say the men have been victims of a miscarriage of justice.

The "Shrewsbury 24" were arrested five months after the 1972 building workers' strike and charged under the 1875 Conspiracy Act.

Eileen Turnbull, from the Shrewsbury 24 campaign group, told BBC News after the vote, led by Labour MP Dave Anderson, that holding it was "absolutely right".

'It was ludicrous'

She said: "This case is 41 years old. To have a vote of such magnitude in the House, it's absolutely right.

"All we are asking for is to release the documents... not asking to debate the issue, it has taken us 40 years for them to vote."

She said she hoped the government who "came in with a policy of transparency" would now release the papers.

"We are looking forward to obtaining these documents hopefully in the next few weeks."

Speaking on Wednesday, ahead of the vote, Tomlinson told BBC Look North about his arrest and the subsequent effect it had on him.

image captionCampaigners have pledged to continue their call for the papers to be released

"They [the police] came one night as my wife was bathing the two lads in front of the fire.

"I was whizzed off to the local police station and because I had never been in trouble with the police I had no experience of anything like this, I was appalled.

"We were taken in a van to Shrewsbury with police in front and behind, police cars with Alsatian dogs and motorbike out-riders.

"Got to the police station in Shrewsbury, we were fingerprinted, photographed, it was surreal, absolutely surreal and to find out I had 21 charges against me for doing everything bar robbing the crown jewels - it was ludicrous.

"We have got to have our names cleared… we have got to have everything squashed.

"I would like to see some of those people responsible, I would like to see them named and shamed because it was appalling."

He said he did think the group would get justice.

"It had a devastating effect on us. It was responsible - not solely for the break-up of my marriage but it played a big part in it."

Last month, campaigners took a 100,000-signature petition calling for the men to be cleared to Downing Street.

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