Listen: Durkan weighs in on Shrewsbury 24 debate over Widgery role

Londonderry MP Mark Durkan has questioned Lord Widgery’s dismissal of an appeal by two trade unionists - including actor Ricky Tomlinson - in the wake of an industrial dispute in 1972.

Mr Durkan raised Lord Widgery’s involvement, whilst supporting a successful motion calling on the Government to release papers related to a building dispute in 1972, which saw a number of picketing trade unionists prosecuted and jailed.

Actor Ricky Tomlinson and his trade union colleague Des Warren were amongst them.

They were leaders of a ‘flying picket’ of building sites in Shrewsbury and Telford in 1972.

Both were jailed for two years at Shrewsbury Crown Court in December 1973 after being tried for conspiracy to intimidate workers.

Both men had appeals against the sentences dismissed in late 1974, by Lord Widgery, two years after he had reported on the events of Bloody Sunday.

Speaking during a motion to release papers relating to the ‘Shrewsbury 24’ on Thursday (January 23) Conservative MP Gerald Howarth, quoted Lord Widgery’s statement at the Court of Appeal, that: “There was at each site a terrifying display by pickets of force and violence actually committed or threatened against buildings, plant and equipment; at some sites, if not at others, acts of personal violence and threats of violence to the person were committed and made. Persons working on the sites and residents near by were put in fear.”

Mr Howarth then declared: “That should not be tolerated in our country, and it should not be supported by Opposition Members.”

But Mr Durkan interrupted at this point questioning Lord Widgery’s verdict.

He stated: “The hon. Gentleman has quoted the Court of Appeal judge. He was the same judge on whose verdict the hon. Gentleman relied for many years in resisting the case for a new inquiry into Bloody Sunday and so on.”

MPs voted 120 to three to release papers related to the 24 men who were accused of violent picketing and intimidation.