John-Paul Stephenson

Ricky Tomlinson fights for justice in Gateshead

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

Image: Ricky Tomlinson with Gateshead councillor Mary Foy

Ricky Tomlinson has continued his appeal for justice against his criminal conviction at an event in Gateshead.

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 appeared at a special event in Blaydon hosted by Kevin Maguire, the Associate Editor of the Daily Mirror, to further publicise the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign, a push to overturn the convictions of 24 builders who were charged following the strike.

Councillor Mary Foy, who represents the Lamesley area of Gateshead, was at the event.

Speaking to Giggle Beats, she said: “Although some of the stories were very harrowing, with him being a comedic character, he made them funny.”

The current struggle is for the release of the full documentation relating to the convictions, which are being withheld until at least 2021 for reasons of ‘national security’, justice secretary Chris Grayling said earlier last year.

Responding to that claim, Tomlinson told last year’s crowd at Durham Miner’s Gala: ”National security, my arse”.

As well as further publicising the campaign, the event also raised funds for Blaydon Labour Party, whose MP Dave Anderson was responsible for securing the debate about the campaign in parliament.

Cllr Foy said: “Dave Anderson got involved because it was essentially the same battle as with the miners, and trying to break down the unions’ power.”

“24 young lads who were picketing the first national strike of the builders union; they weren’t agitating or anything.”

Tomlinson used his humour, Cllr Foy said, to describe the farcical nature of the arrests and convictions.

“Some of the 24 have died now, so it’s important to clear them for their families.”

Further details about the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign is available on their website.