Wigan trade unionists celebrate as Shrewsbury 24 verdicts are overturned

The Court of Appeal has quashed the convictions of those involved in a building workers' strike almost half a century ago.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 1:51 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 2:49 pm
Members of the Shrewsbury 24 and lawyers outside the Court of Appeal in London

The court ruled the verdicts handed down in the wake of the industrial action in 1972, which included prison sentences, were unsafe.

Trade unionists were wrongly charged with an array of offences in relation to their involvement in pickets.

The verdict has been celebrated in the borough by Wigan Trades Council, which said workers in the town were particularly active during the 1972 strike.

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Unions in the borough have also supported the campaigns over the decades to get the Shrewsbury 24's verdicts overturned.

Activists from Wigan toured the country drumming up support for the campaign, ensuring the events in the summer of 1972 were not forgotten, as well as contributing funds and hosting speakers.

Wigan Trades Council particularly paid tribute to the support of the local building workers' branch of Unite and its secretary Jim Ellis.

He relaunched the campaign in Wigan for justice for those involved in the pickets in 2006.

Speaking after the verdict in London, Mr Ellis said: "‘This campaign has not been about one or a few individuals putting ourselves on some sort of pedestal, it was about showing how ordinary rank and file trade unionists can change things when we are committed to do so.

"We want to thank the thousands of trade unionists across the country for making this historic victory come to fruition, to thank Wigan’s trade unionists for stepping up to the mark and supporting us financially and practically.

"Unfortunately, people like Des Warren and others convicted died before learning what they already knew about governmental and employer conspiracy and malice towards them; but their families and the wider working class now know the truth, and what we face when trying to improve the quality of our lives.

"Real change comes from below."

Judges said the appeals against 14 convictions had been successful due to the destruction of original witness statements. They also ruled out holding a retrial.

One of those involved was actor Ricky Tomlinson, who was jailed for two years.

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