On 3 and 4 February 2021, after almost five decades since their convictions, the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal will hear an appeal against the convictions of members of the Shrewsbury 24. The pickets whose convictions will be considered include Dennis Warren (deceased), John McKinsie Jones, Kenneth O’Shea (deceased), John Clee, William Pierce, Terence Renshaw, Patrick Kevin Butcher, Bernard Williams, Alfred James (deceased), Samuel Roy Warburton (deceased), Graham Roberts (deceased) and John Kenneth Seaburg (deceased).
The appeal follows the referral to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission of the following alleged abuse of process based on: (i) evidence discovered in the National Archives by the Campaign’s Secretary and Researcher, Eileen Turnbull that demonstrates that original witness statements had been destroyed and that this fact had not been disclosed to the defence counsel or the court; and (ii) the broadcast of a highly prejudicial documentary during the first trial, the content of which was contributed to by a covert agency within the Foreign Office known as the Information Research Department.
The original application was made to the CCRC in 2012 and the CCRC originally refused to make that referral in 2017. Following that first refusal, four of those applicants pursued a judicial review on behalf of the wider group. Permission to proceed to a full hearing was originally refused on the papers, but was subsequently granted by Mr Justice Jay in November 2018. The CCRC continued to defend the proceedings until the day of the hearing before Lord Justice Flaux and Mrs Justice Carr DBE in April 2019. The CCRC unusually conceding partway through the submissions of Danny Friedman QC that the CCRC would withdraw its decisions and reconsider them.
The CCRC subsequently referred the convictions to the Court of Appeal in respect of the two grounds identified above “because it now considers that the new evidence and argument outlined above create a real possibility the Court of Appeal will quash the convictions.” The Department of Public Prosecutions is defending the appeal despite the conclusions of the CCRC.
Terry Renshaw, speaking on behalf of the pickets, said:
We are looking forward to finally having our day in court to show that we were victims of a miscarriage of justice. Without the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign we would not be where we are today. We owe a great debt of thanks to them for the tireless work that they have carried out.
Kate Goold, Partner in the Crime Department at Bindmans LLP and lead solicitor for the pickets in the Court of Appeal supported by the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign, said:
We could not have reached this stage without the pain-staking research of the Campaign’s Researcher and Secretary Eileen Turnbull. She has spent over ten years visiting every conceivable library and archive in the UK to uncover the key evidence more than four decades after the relevant events took place. We can only hope that justice will now be achieved for the Shrewsbury 24, many of whom have sadly died before their case could finally be determined.
The relevant pickets are represented in the Court of Appeal by Danny Friedman QC (Matrix Chambers) and Ben Newton (Doughty Street Chambers) together with Kate Goold and Jamie Potter of Bindmans LLP.
The Shrewsbury 24 Campaign website is at https://www.shrewsbury24campaign.org.uk/.