Pickets' convictions to be re-examined.
Byline: Report by Mark Andrews firstname.lastname@example.org
THE convictions of a group of former Shrewsbury pickets, including the television actor Ricky Tomlinson, are to be re-examined in the light of fresh claims.
The Criminal Cases Review Commission has agreed to look at new evidence from the so-called Shrewsbury 24, which could potentially lead to their case being referred to the Court of Appeal.
Mr Tomlinson, who went on to star in Brookside and The Royle Family, was one of three trade unionists jailed at Shrewsbury Crown Court in 1973.
He was sentenced to two years in prison for conspiring to intimidate workers at building sites in Shrewsbury and Telford during a bitter strike the previous year, when he was working as a plasterer. He served 15 months.
His co-defendant Des Warren was jailed for three years for the same offences, and died in 2004 from Parkinson's disease. Mr Tomlinson has claimed this was caused by a drug used to restrain prisoners.
John McKinsie Jones was jailed for nine months. Three other pickets were also jailed the following year.
The Criminal Cases Review Commission had previously declined to reopen the case, but has now agreed to look at it again following a judicial review hearing in Birmingham.
Commission spokesman Justin Hawkins said: "We agreed part way through those judicial review proceedings to re-open the case in order to reconsider two specific issues."
One of the claims is that the prosecution at the time failed to disclose that material had been destroyed which could potentially have been helpful to the defence.
The commission will also look at whether an ITV documentary broadcast shortly before the trial could have prejudiced the trial.
Mr Hawkins said the commission would look at whether either of these factors could have potentially had an impact on the safety of the convictions.
"Once we have received the claimant's revised submissions on these points, we will re-open the case and revisit those matters," he said.
Eileen Turnbull, secretary of the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign, said: "This is a magnificent success.
We are one step nearer to achieving our goal of justice for the pickets.
"The Shrewsbury 24 Campaign has worked tirelessly over the past 13 years to track down the fresh evidence to put before the courts. Today's result is a testament to all our hard work and the support of the Labour movement."