Our campaign is seeking to overturn the convictions of the pickets at Shrewsbury Crown Court in 1973 and 1974. In law this can only be done by the Court of Appeal. We are not campaigning for a free pardon. A pardon is not the same as the quashing of the convictions. It is simply the Crown excusing someone for having committed a crime.
The Court of Appeal can only consider an appeal against the convictions of the pickets if it is referred to them by the CCRC.
The Criminal Cases Review Commission was established by the Criminal Appeals Act 1995. Its stated purpose is to review miscarriages of justice and refer appropriate cases to the Court of Appeal. Some famous cases amongst the hundreds that the CCRC have referred include Derek Bentley (the “Let him have it” case), Sally Clark (sudden infant death syndrome) and Barry George (the Jill Dando murder).
The Commission has wide-ranging powers to assist their investigations. Under section 17 of the 1995 Act the CCRC can obtain documents from any public body. This power is vital for our campaign, as the Government has consistently refused to release documents relating to the case. When Ricky Tomlinson requested copies of documents about him the Government refused to disclose many of them under section 23 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. They claimed that issues of “national security” allowed the Government to deprive the pickets of information about this industrial dispute.
The CCRC has the power to interview jurors, police officers, the lawyers involved in the original trials and anyone else whom it considers to be relevant to its investigation.
If the CCRC conclude that there is a “real possibility” that the Court of Appeal will quash a conviction they will refer the case to the appeal court.
Our case is quite unique compared with the majority of cases that the CCRC deals with. Our research over several years has found that there was clear evidence of political interference by the Conservative Government in 1972-73, from the initial decision to arrest the pickets through to the trials and convictions at Shrewsbury. We will be asking the CCRC to use its powers to obtain Cabinet minutes, memos, letters and other documents for this period which we believe will confirm this abuse of process of the criminal justice system by the government.
The case was submitted to the CCRC on Tuesday 3rd April 2012.
We expect a final decision from the CCRC before Christmas 2016. We will post details of the decision on this website.