Shrewsbury 24 succeeds in judicial review against Criminal Cases Review Commission

On International Workers’ Day we are delighted to inform all our supporters that we have won a crucial victory in our long struggle to overturn the convictions of the Shrewsbury 24.

Yesterday, 30th April 2019, halfway through the Judicial Review hearing in the Birmingham Administrative Court, the Criminal Cases Review Commission agreed to withdraw its previous decision not to refer the pickets’ cases to the Court of Appeal. The CCRC has agreed that it will now reconsider the case.

The pickets had asked the CCRC to refer their convictions on two main grounds: (i) recently discovered evidence that original witness statements had been destroyed and that this fact had not been disclosed to the defence counsel; and (ii) the broadcast of a highly prejudicial TV documentary during the first trial, Red under the Bed, the contents of which was contributed to by a covert agency within the Foreign Office known as the Information Research Department. After considering the case and all the evidence submitted by the Campaign since 2012, the CCRC had steadfastly refused to make a referral.

Four of the pickets, Nick Warren (for his late father Des), John McKinsie Jones, Michael Pierce and Terry Renshaw, together with the Campaign, refused to be bowed by this decision and pursued judicial review of the CCRC as lead applicants of the wider group. They were represented by Jamie Potter of Bindmans LLP and Danny Friedman QC of Matrix Chambers. Permission to proceed to a full judicial review hearing was originally refused by a judge on the papers, but was subsequently granted by Mr Justice Jay in November 2018.

The CCRC continued to defend the judicial review proceedings until the very day of the hearing, before Lord Justice Flaux and Mrs Justice Carr. Then, two hours into the case, the CCRC took the unusual step of conceding. It agreed to withdraw its earlier decisions of October 2017, when it turned down the pickets’ applications. The case will now be re-examined by new CCRC commissioners.

Eileen Turnbull, Researcher and Secretary of the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign said, “This is a magnificent success. We are one step nearer to achieving our goal of justice for the pickets. The Shrewsbury 24 Campaign has worked tirelessly over the past 13 years. Today’s result is a testament to all our hard work and the support of the labour movement.”

The chairperson of the Campaign, Harry Chadwick, added, “It has taken us over 13 years to track down the fresh evidence to put before the courts. The Labour Party and trade unions have stood by us throughout, particularly my union, Unite. The fight goes on until we achieve justice for the pickets.”

Jailed picket, Michael Pierce, was equally ecstatic. “I never thought that I would see the day when the courts would recognise the justness of our case. I would like to thank the Campaign for getting us there.”

Terry Renshaw, convicted picket, was delighted, “When I left court yesterday I almost cried with joy. We have now had three judges saying that we have an arguable case. We look forward to the day when the CCRC sends our case back to the Court of Appeal.”