Striker jailed with Ricky Tomlinson dies

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The Independent Online

Des Warren, whose jailing along with Ricky Tomlinson after the 1972 national building workers' strike became the focus of mass protests by trade unionists, died at the weekend.

Tomlinson, now a successful actor, was imprisoned for two years and Warren for three, after being found guilty of conspiracy charges. They were arrested at Shrewsbury, at the height of the strike, and accused of organising violent picketing.

There were demonstrations outside the court in Mold, north Wales. Inside, Warren and Tomlinson denied the charges and argued that it was a "show trial" resulting from connections between the Tory government and the big construction firms.

An appeal heard at the High Court in London was rejected. There were major demonstrations in London and Manchester. With the election of the Labour in 1974, there were calls from the trade union movement for their release. But the home secretary, Roy Jenkins, refused.

Warren and Tomlinson wore only blankets for long periods of their imprisonment because they refused to wear prison uniform, as part of their campaign to prove their innocence.

Warren spent most of his three years in solitary confinement and developed symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease. He claimed his illness had been caused by the "liquid cosh", a prison description for tranquillising drugs administered to difficult inmates. He suffered from these symptoms for the rest of his life.

Earlier this year, Tomlinson published an autobiography in which he called for a campaign to reopen the case of the "Shrewsbury pickets". He said last night that a London firm of lawyers was looking at the prosecution of the pickets and the 1973 trial.