28 March 1929 – 26 December 2017

It is with great sadness that the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign has to announce the death of the eldest surviving picket, Kenneth Desmond Francis O’Shea on Boxing Day. He was 88.

Ken stood trial twice in 1973 for picketing during the national building workers’ strike in 1972. The first time was at Mold Crown Court where he was tried, along with seven other pickets, for affray and intimidation. They were all found not guilty on both counts. Ken, like several others, was found guilty of minor charges of damaging property and fined £15 on one count and £50 on the other.

Four months later, Ken was then prosecuted at Shrewsbury Crown Court alongside his long-time friend and staunch trade unionist, Des Warren and four other pickets: John Carpenter, John McKinsie Jones, John Llywarch and Ricky Tomlinson. Ken, like all his co-accused, pleaded not guilty to all charges. The six were tried on just three counts: conspiracy to intimidate, affray and unlawful assembly. After a twelve-week trial, Ken was found not guilty of conspiracy and affray but guilty of unlawful assembly. He was sentenced to nine months imprisonment, suspended for two years.

Like all the other convicted pickets Ken always maintained his innocence and was a central part of the campaign to have the convictions overturned. Ken always said that the Government were waiting for the pickets to die before they would release the documents that would show the extent of Government interference in bringing the prosecutions in 1972/73.

Eileen Turnbull and Harry Chadwick last saw Ken on 18 December 2017 when they visited him with his life-long friend and fellow-picket, Michael Pierce. Ken was living in a nursing home in Flint and although he was frail his spirit was as strong as ever. He was resolute in wanting the Campaign to continue to clear the names of all the pickets. One of his last comments to us, when we spoke about the strike and trials, was that despite the blacklisting and hardship that he experienced after the trials he would do it all again.

We will honour Ken’s memory and support the surviving pickets by continuing with our campaign to have the convictions overturned.

Eileen Turnbull, Secretary

Harry Chadwick, Chairperson