John-Paul Stephenson

“National security, my arse!”

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Image: David Mooney

Ricky Tomlinson has appealed for justice against his criminal conviction.

The actor, who played Jim Royle in the BBC sitcom The Royle Family, was imprisoned in 1973 along with five other men for conspiracy offences during the first national building workers’ strike.

Tomlinson used yesterday’s Durham Miners’ Gala to publicise the Shrewsbury 24 campaign, a push to overturn the convictions of 24 builders who were charged following the strike.

The release of the full documentation relating to the convictions will be withheld until at least 2021 for reasons of ‘national security’, justice secretary Chris Grayling said earlier this year.

Speaking at the 129th annual event in Durham, attended by thousands, Tomlinson used his own imitable style to question how the papers could be a legitimate threat by shouting: ”National security, my arse”.

He encouraged the crowd to sign a paper petition that could not be disregarded due to a technicality.

Tomlinson claimed that their first e-petition had been dismissed by Government officials due to an alleged administrative error.

Earlier this year, the pickets’ solicitor, Rhona Friedman, told the BBC that “the public interest in overturning a miscarriage of justice surely outweighs potential government and civil service embarrassment over events of almost 40 years ago.”