The 43-year-old cover-up by the ‘establishment’ of the events relating to the Shrewsbury 24 - construction workers put on trial for their trade union activities – needs to be finally exposed, Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Wednesday 9 December).
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said that the Labour party was ‘bang on’ to threaten to oppose the government’s Investigatory Powers bill, unless there is full disclosure of the papers relating to the high-profile case.
Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham claims he has compiled a set of documents which allege that at the time of the Shrewsbury 24 case, the government of the then Tory prime minister Edward Heath was involved in the manipulation of witnesses and attempts to influence the judge and trial jury.
Len McCluskey said: “It is time for this ‘establishment’ cover-up to be exposed with the release of all the government documents relating to this disgraceful miscarriage of justice.
“The workers have been protesting their innocence and seeking justice ever since.
“Many, including Unite, believe that the trial was politically motivated, evidence deliberately withheld and charges falsified in what was a gross travesty against peaceful protesting working people.
“These beliefs are reinforced by the refusal of government to release all government papers, documentation and evidence relating to the arrest and prosecution of the pickets, citing the spurious catch-all of ‘national security’.
“The government must demonstrate that the security services have changed, if it wants to gain the trust of parliament and the public for its new surveillance legislation. The release of the papers relating to the Shrewsbury 24 would be a significant step in that journey.”
The workers had been peacefully picketing construction sites during 1972 in support of the nationally called building workers strike when police arrested them. After lengthy trials at Shrewsbury crown court, six of the workers, including actor Ricky Tomlinson, who was then working as a plasterer, were jailed.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940.
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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.