Shrewsbury 24 Debate(January 23, 2014)
Liverpool Walton MP Steve Rotheram has today delivered a passionate speech to the House of Commons, demanding the Government release all remaining papers regarding the arrest and imprisonment of Ricky Tomlinson and the Shrewsbury Pickets.
Rotheram – a former bricklayer – was instrumental in securing the debate in the Commons and took the opportunity to praise Ricky Tomlinson:
“I want to put on record my praise for the remarkable persistence in the way in which the campaigners have conducted themselves over the last four decades – and in particular, praise Ricky Tomlinson for the way in which he has used his fame as an actor to highlight this injustice. Despite his success, he has remained resolutely shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity with other Shrewsbury pickets and their families.
“He is a credit to his working class values, the Trade Union movement and the great city of Liverpool”.
In a heated Commons debate, Rotheram went on to say of the Shrewsbury campaign that “We now know more than ever before about the political, judicial, media and police manipulation that scarred the working lives of 24 ordinary men – wrongly convicted on trumped-up charges, with six of them unjustly jailed”.
Rotheram, who relived his first experiences of life on Liverpool’s building sites, went on to criticise the Government for the imbalance in their decision-making process over what papers they can and can’t release.
He said, “It is worth pausing to review papers which have been released in recent months.
“We have seen documents relating to the Brixton Riots, the Lockerbie Bombing, Mrs Thatcher’s attempted use of the Army against the miners - and details of how she made no effort whatsoever to make the case for the release of Nelson Mandela.
“But perhaps most surprisingly, in November 2013, the Guardian reported details of secret memos released relating to the efforts of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ to maintain a Cypriot base.
“Given the political, strategic and geographical importance of that base, it is surprising to me that an issue of such magnitude doesn’t apparently warrant an extension of the Security and Intelligence Instrument of the Public Records Act 1958 – but documents relating to a couple of dozen strikers during a building workers dispute forty odd years ago are deemed to be a risk to our country’s national security!
“It would be farcical if it wasn’t so serious for those whose lives have been deeply sacred by this miscarriage of justice. I can see no reason whatsoever for the Government’s position to withhold the release of these papers.
“We are at a juncture in our country; where we have the chance to systematically cleanse the wrongs of our recent history. From Bloody Sunday, to historic child and sexual abuse cases, Amritsar to Stephen Lawrence and (yes) Hillsborough – and who knows perhaps Orgreave and beyond.
“So I am of the belief that this is a moment that this generation of politicians must act upon.
“The Shrewsbury Campaign may very well have been the first in a series of injustices that have spanned more than four decades – leaving heartache and grief in their wake – but the time has come for the obfuscation to end, for the campaigning to succeed and for justice to be done”.