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'National security, my arse': Ricky Tomlinson sets off to Number 10 with support of 100,000

'When people learn the truth they will be shocked that things like this go on in modern Britain '

Written by . Published on December 16th 2013.

'National security, my arse': Ricky Tomlinson sets off to Number 10 with support of 100,000

ROYLE Family star Ricky Tomlinson headed to 10 Downing Street at dawn today in the latest move in his fight for justice. 

He set off from Lime Street station with a 100,000-signature petition in a campaign that started exactly 40 years ago when he and a group of colleagues were jailed for what they insist was a political trial against the working classes. 

Art mirrored real life for Tomlinson who, before he shot to fame playing shop steward Bobby Grant in Brookside, was a buiding site worker and trade union activist fighting for better conditions for co-workers.

Ricky and supporters at Lime StreetRicky and supporters at Lime Street

The petition calls on Prime Minister David Cameron to order the release of vital Government papers Tomlinson says will prove his prosecution was carried out with the knowledge and approval of senior Government ministers, including then then Prime Minister, Edward Heath. 

Under normal UK rules, Downing Street papers are released after 30 years, but the Government has decided to keep the documents locked away for at least another 10 years. 

Tomlinson says he fears he and those jailed with him are likely to have died of old age by the time the papers – marked “top secret” -  are finally released. 


For the visit to Downing Street, Tomlinson was this morning accompanied by several Labour Members of Parliament, including Liverpool Walton MP Steve Rotheram and the national general secretaries of four of Britain’s biggest trade unions. 

Tomlinson said, "Today’s visit to Downing Street is an important step in our long campaign. We were convicted of conspiracy in the 1970s, but we were innocent then and we are innocent now.  

“Crucial documents relating to the charges brought against us and the trials at Shrewsbury Crown Court continue to be withheld by the Government. 

“Successive ministers have used a section of the Freedom of Information laws which deals with national security, to say that it would not be in the public interest to release them. 


“National security my arse! There was never a national security issue.” 

He added: “They know the documents will finally reveal the names of the Government minister behind our prosecution and that includes then then Prime Minister, Ted Heath. It was a Government-orchestrated attack on working class people. When people learn the truth they will be shocked that things like this go on in modern Britain.” 

At the heart of the campaign is the national strike by British building workers which took place in the 1970s. 

A group of activists, one of them  Ricky Tomlinson, was rounded up by the police and subjected to what they describe as a show trial at Shrewsbury Crown Court on charges of conspiracy. A total of 24 men were prosecuted, known as the Shrewsbuty 24. Twenty-two were convicted and six, including Tomlinson were sent to prison.

His researcher, Eileen Turnbull, who has studied the background of the case, says officials in the Home Office and in the Lord Chancellor’s Office kept quiet when it was discovered the trial judge had exceeded his powers when he jailed Tomlinson for twio years.

Shrewsbury_24_Ricky_TomlinsonThe long fight in black and white

Miss Turnbull said: “I have discovered many files and documents that cannot be seen by the public because the Government claims it would threaten national security. But I have forced one file out into the open and the contents are remarkable. It is from the Prime Minister’s Office and could not be seen at the office of the National Archives because it had been retained by the Cabinet Office (at 10 Downing Street).” 

Backed by politicians from the major parties, MPs have won a three-hour Commons debate this coming January. 

A petition supporting Tomlinson and the others convicted in the 1970s trials, demanding the immediate release of the hidden papers, has gathered more than 100,000 names. 

Tomlinson said: “Our prosecution was political and our convictions and jail sentences were political. This goes to the very top of the Conservative Government in the 1970s when Edward Heath was the Prime Minister. I am convinced he would have been made aware of what was going on.

"It was an attack on the working classes of Britain and while I continue to draw my breath I will fight for justice and for the truth to come out. The Government of today can hide away the facts, but they can never bury the truth. 

 “We are demanding our convictions be overturned and we will not rest until that happens.”

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

John ShawDecember 16th 2013.

The truth will out, stick at it boys.

AnonymousDecember 17th 2013.

The importance of this cause is important, given the current attacks on working class people by the Conservative led government. If the government has nothing to hide, or be ashamed of, then release the papers today. Remember the people refusing to release these documents are those elected by the people to serve our interests. Democracy? In the UK? My arse!

Carl HunterDecember 17th 2013.

Best of luck, Ricky

1 Response: Reply To This...
BMMarch 24th 2014.

You need to hope justice will eventually be given to you Ricky. I read your book & to think you are still trying to get the truth. Just keep on going & never give up

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