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Ricky's new bid to prove Ted Heath picket plot

E-Petition comes after damning Cabinet letter unearthed

Written by . Published on October 1st 2012.

Ricky's new bid to prove Ted Heath picket plot

LIVERPOOL actor and Royle Family star Ricky Tomlinson has launched a Downing Street e-petition, claiming former Prime Minister Ted Heath and Cabinet ministers had a hand in the 1970s flying picket “show trial” that saw him sent to jail for conspiracy. 

Tomlinson wants to force the Government to release hidden Cabinet papers, claiming they will expose a “Hillsborough-style” cover up over the arrests and conviction of the Shrewsbury 24.

'This was a disgraceful miscarriage of
justice and has gone on for 40 years.
I want to see all the convictions quashed
and our names cleared before we all snuff it'

His researcher, former union legal officer EileenTurnbull, has unearthed damning documents under the 30-year rule, including a letter to Ted Heath's Home Secretary Robert Carr from the then Conservative Attorney General, Sir Peter Rawlinson. 

In the letter, the Attorney General warns against instituting conspiracy charges against pickets involved in the 12-week national building workers strike of 1972. 

Just days after that letter was received at the Home Office, police armed with arrest warrants, swooped on the then Wrexham home of Tomlinson as well as other flying pickets. They were all arrested and faced a host of charges, including conspiracy centred on picketing activities in Shropshire in September 1972. 

In the AG's letter to Mr Carr, Sir Peter said: "The building worker's strike last summer produced instances of intimidation of varying degrees of seriousness in which I have had to decide whether or not criminal proceedings should be instituted for an offence against Section 7 of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act of 1875." 

Ricky Tomlinson - Political Fight Goes OnRicky Tomlinson: 'Even after 30 years, Government files have been withheld from the National Archives. Why?'

Sir Peter comments on the cases referred to him, in which the intimidation consisted of threatening words and in which there was no evidence against any particular person of violence or damage to property. 

"In these circumstances, Treasury Counsel, to whom the cases were referred by the Director of Public Prosecutions to advise on the prospects of securing a conviction, took the view that the prospects were very uncertain, and in the result I agreed with him and the Director that proceedings should not be instituted." 

Robert CarrTed Heath's Home Secretary
Robert Carr
Sir Peter said he was influenced by the fact the accused would have an unfettered right to trial by jury, and past experience showed that if proceedings were instituted against “these men” they would almost certainly elect trial by jury. 

"One has therefore to consider the prospects of conviction by a jury, rather than by a magistrates' court and you will appreciate that accordingly different considerations apply." 

The former Brookside actor said: "It is clear the orders to charge people like me were taken at the highest level, as high as Heath and the Cabinet. I have launched this petition to force the release of the missing papers that will prove I and my fellow accused were innocent of conspiracy. This was a disgraceful miscarriage of justice and has gone on for 40 years. I want to see all the convictions quashed and our names cleared before we all snuff it. 

“I speak not just for myself but also for all the pickets who were charged. Many of them never worked again due to the blacklist. The prison sentences and fines we received for picketing completely wrecked our lives.

"I am delighted and heartened by the success of the Hillsborough campaigners. It shows the depths the Establishment will sink to. 

Tomlinson added: "During the picketing in September 1972 in Telford there were 70 or 80 police officers. None of us were arrested or spoken to. In fact the police inspected praised our conduct.

"Then out of the blue, five months later, the police knocked at the door and I was arrested. Me and the other pickets were whisked from North Wales to Shrewsbury in a fleet of vans with police outriders as though we were terrorists. 

“I had never been in any trouble or had any brush with the law until then and I couldn’t believe this was happening in a so-called democratic state.

Support For Ricky TomlinsonSupport For the Shrewsbury 24
goes to an e-petition
"Since my arrest in the 1970s I have been convinced of political involvement at the highest level. I thought it would all come out under the 30 year rule, but after 40 years there is still information being retained. My petition is seeking full disclosure. Even after 30 years, Government files have been withheld from the National Archives. Why?" 

The petition needs 100,000 signatures to generate a Commons debate to force the release of the vital evidence. 

Among more than 50 MPs supporting Tomlinson is Hillsborough champion Steve Rotheram, MP for Liverpool Walton and one time building industry worker.


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

Hayley MorleyOctober 1st 2012.

Good luck with the campaign. I am pleased to have worked, and became a friend of the late Mr. Warren's son Andy who gave a very interesting story of his memories of being a child at the time of the aforementioned activities. In the interest of the Warren family, maybe a pardon would be welcomed, along with a polite and dignified acceptance of apology from all parties harmed by these unfair untruths.

AnonymousOctober 1st 2012.

Good luck Ricky. Hillsborough, now this, and we are supposed to be living in a democracy. Democracy, my arse!

Alan BriggsOctober 2nd 2012.

With you All the way Ricky the system is All my Arse

SaladDazeOctober 2nd 2012.

We know - for example from the Shrewsbury case, from Orgreave, Hillsborough, the Murdoch hacking scandals - and now http://socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=27777 - how police, politicians, judges and press can conspire against working people. Thanks to FOI and decent investigative journalists - and citizen journalism - we can unearth some truths but only after lives have been ruined and decades of injustice allowed to continue. Good luck to the campaign (and let's hope the two parallel campaigns can unite and fight).

John. EvansOctober 3rd 2012.

Good luck to Ricky. , A man who has a heart in the right place. And backed his colleagues. To the hilt. Even going to prison !! I have nothing but admiration for him .
Even when he sent his agent in a very low key way. To alder hey. Childrens hospital. With a personal. Donation. Cheque. For. 1. Million. Pounds !!!!! What a thoughtful caring man with morals. I say again best wishes and good luck.

Peter DoyleOctober 9th 2012.

Good luck Ricky Behind you mate

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