Members of the ‘Shrewsbury 24′ who were convicted for unlawful assembly conspiracy to intimidate and affray for picketing during the 1972 national builders’ strike have won a bid to clear their names at the Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal have ruled on appeals against conviction on behalf of 14 members of the so-called “Shrewsbury 24”.
They are a group of construction workers convicted for unlawful assembly, conspiracy to intimidate or affray after picketing building sites in Shrewsbury in the 1972 national builders’ strike.
Among those challenging the convictions are Royle Family star Ricky Tomlinson, who was sentenced to two years in jail, and the family of Des Warren, who was jailed for three years and died in 2004.
Announcing the decision at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Tuesday, Lord Justice Fulford said: “These 14 appeals against conviction are allowed across the three trial and on every extant count which the 14 appellants faced.”
The judge added: “It would not be in the public interest to order a retrial.
The cases were referred to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission on the basis of new evidence that some original statements had been destroyed, as well as due to the potential impact of an ITV documentary, Red Under the Bed, which was broadcast during the first of the three trials of the Shrewsbury 24.
In its written ruling, the Court of Appeal allowed the 14 appellants’ appeals on the ground that original witness statements had been destroyed.
Lord Justice Fulford said: “If the destruction of the handwritten statements had been revealed to the appellants at the time of the trial, this issue could have been comprehensively investigated with the witnesses when they gave evidence, and the judge would have been able to give appropriate directions.
“We have no doubt that if that had happened, the trial process would have ensured fairness to the accused. Self-evidently, that is not what occurred.”
The judge added: “By the standards of today, what occurred was unfair to the extent that the verdicts cannot be upheld.”
Liverpool-born actor Tomlinson challenged his 1973 conviction for picketing in court last month.
Tomlinson and his fellow pickets were convicted of offences including unlawful assembly and affray.
Six were imprisoned.
Tomlinson was given a two-year sentence and served 18 months in Leicester’s Welford Road jail.