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Ricky Tomlinson's bid to clear name in new setback

Kenneth Clarke ordered vital papers to remain locked up for at least 10 more years

Written by . Published on January 21st 2013.

Ricky Tomlinson's bid to clear name in new setback

ROYLE Family actor Ricky Tomlinson has suffered a setback in his 40-year campaign to clear his name as one of the pickets jailed after the national building workers strike of 1972.

The Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling has revealed vital government and Cabinet papers about the case are to stay locked up for at least another 10 years - prompting the former Brookside actor to question whether politicians "want us all to die to make this issue go away".

'There must be something very powerful and damning in the papers if there is a need to keep them top secret for half a century'

Tomlinson, 73, believes the secret papers will reveal the part the then Prime Minister Ted Heath and other leading Conservatives played in the prosecutions and claims they will expose a Hillsborough-stylecover up over the arrests and conviction of the Shrewsbury 24.

Currently a Downing Street e-petition is gathering signatures in the hope of securing a full Parliamentary debate on what Tomlinson describes as one of the greatest injustices ever against the workers.

At a "show trial" in 1973, Tomlinson was given a two year jail sentence for  along with other pickets who were also jailed had hoped the papers would have been released in 2003 under the 30 year rule, but the decision was taken then to keep them hidden for a further 10 years – until 2013.

Now, Tomlinson has been told by Chris Grayling that his predecesor as Lord Chancellor Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, had signed a new order over a year ago authorising the retention of the papers for "security reasons" until December 31, 2021.

Kenneth ClarkeKenneth ClarkeTomlinson said: “It seems to me the politicians and the security services want us all to die to make this issue go away. All of us are in old age – I am in my seventies – and I have been working since 1973 to clear my name.

"Until we saw Grayling's letter just a few days ago, we had no idea Kenneth Clarke had ordered the papers to be kept under lock and key until the 2020s, with no guarantee they will be released then. There must be something very powerful and damning in the papers if there is a need to keep them top secret for half a century.

“I believe they will expose the influence on the convictions by Heath and other Cabinet ministers as well as the undercover work by the secret services. This is the kind of thing you would expect in an old style Soviet regime, not in 21st century England.”

Ricky Tomlinson 2 Ricky Tomlinson: 'They are just
hoping we will all start dying off
in the next 10 years and this
will be forgotten'
On Wednesday, Tomlinson and his campaign team are addressing a conference at 1 Parliament Conference Room C to highlight their plight. Present will be MPs Tom Watson, John McDonnell and the Liverpool Walton MP, Steve Rotheram, who has been at the forefront of exposing the Hillsborough cover-up. Trade union general secretaries Len McCluskey and Steve Murphy will also be at the conference.

Tomlinson says his campaign team have already unearthed vital correspondence between Sir Peter Rawlinson, Attorney General in Heath's government to the then Home Secretary Robert Carr. In the letter, Sir Peter warned the Home Secretary against instituting conspiracy charges against the Shrewsbury 24 involved in the 12-week strike of 1972.

But just days later, police swooped on Tomlinson's home in Wrexham and arrested him. The homes of other pickets were also raised in a co-ordinated exercise. The pickets faced a range of charges, including conspiracy and a number of them, including Tomlinson, spent several years in prison.

Tomlinson said: “I have been protesting my innocence since the moment of my arrest as I had done nothing wrong. Even the police who were on duty during the picketing didn't complain, in fact we got on OK with them.

"This was a political show trial. I am convinced when the full facts are released all of us will be cleared. They are just hoping we will all start dying off in the next 10 years and this will be forgotten. But I can assure them this campaign will continue well after all of us are dead and buried.”

The campaigners hiope a Downing Street e-petition, to generate a debate in parliament, will gather 100,000 names by it June deadline. You can sign it here.

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15 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousJanuary 21st 2013.

Blatant, arrogant disregard by the Tories. Why would we expect anything else?

AnonymousJanuary 22nd 2013.

It is fairly amazing that the government has a so-what attitude to this. Like, "we've covered it up and we're not going to uncover it until you are dead". It's utterly shocking in fact.

AnonymousJanuary 22nd 2013.

The Government has obviously got something embarrasing to hide with regard to this case.

London RoadJanuary 22nd 2013.

The had a lot embarrasing to hide about Hillsborough, how can this be any worse?

SaladDazeJanuary 22nd 2013.

Not surprising. They have a lot to hide. This was the start of the modern era of Tory/press/police/judiciary attacks on working people (preceded - of course - by the earlier 'labour' government 1966 description of Liverpool strikers as 'a tightly knit bunch of politically motivated men') . It continued through the seventies and eighties. The Tory/police 'victory' at Orgreave and the disgrace of Hillsborough were part of the continued Thatcher/Blair/Cameron project to put the banks into unassailable power, and destroy trade unions along with any symbols of a decent society like the NHS, state schooling, social housing and nationalised transport and utilities. The Tories (blue, pink or orange) never forget why they're in power. We must never forget why they are such odious people: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qX-P4mx1FLU

John MorganJanuary 22nd 2013.

Typical, its what should be changed in this country , the Establishment protecting itself under the cloak of so called National Security, disgusting !

AnonymousJanuary 22nd 2013.

Typical what can we expect from these people. They neither care or understand how the working class feel or how they think about anything. Doesn't this show that there is something very not right about this. I hope they can sleep at night.

AnonymousJanuary 22nd 2013.

Right on brothers!

AnonymousJanuary 22nd 2013.

Typical these people neither care or understand how the working class people think or feel. It appears there is something being covered up otherwise surely this would have been dealt with, after all 40 years have gone by. What happened to the 30 year rule or does it mean nothing

Ken RobertsJanuary 22nd 2013.

I believe that there is a secret society within this country
that have more power than the elected government .

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 23rd 2013.

Hear hear

Les OneillJanuary 22nd 2013.

J have been acutely aware of this outrageous political act since day one. There isn't very much I can add to the comments made by Mr. Tomlinson. Although I am correct in saying that the Shrewsbury Chief Constable of the day shook hands with both he and (the regrettably late) Denis Warren, congratulating them on conducting a protest of such magnitude in such a peaceful manner. For what was described as "just another every day trial" why were there so many members of the constabulary present at Mold Crown Court? I wish this campaign every success as the act of any government 'moving the goal posts' is something that affects the nation as a whole and not just the people directly involved. I should also like to subscribe to the foregoing comments made by Ken Roberts, how true. Enough is enough.

Arthur AdamsJanuary 22nd 2013.

Somebody who knows a bit more of the details of Ken Clarke's actions should update Mr Clarke's Wikipedia page

Miranda BeeApril 28th 2013.

My feelings are not changed from that day to this: no surrender!

John ShawApril 29th 2013.

They're consistent,they have always treated us with contempt,they see us as the enemy.

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