Today, 23 March 2021 will go down in history as the day when a titanic struggle for justice finally came to an end. On that day the Court of Appeal overturned the convictions of 14 men sentenced for their involvement in picketing during the 1972 national building workers strike. Lawyers for the ‘Shrewsbury 24’ as they were known from the outset had argued the destruction of witness statements made their convictions unsafe. The appeal judge Lord Justice Fulford agreed saying that “what occurred was unfair”. Sadly six of the 14 who brought the action have since died, including Des Warren, who was jailed for three years. Best known of the pickets is the Royle Family TV actor Ricky Tomlinson who was among those convicted and was jailed for two years.
This year’s Solidarity with the People of Turkey (SPOT) conference planned for 28 March in London was a victim of the pandemic lock-down, Since then attacks on democracy have been stepped up with continuing crackdowns on civil society, independent media and political opposition, especially members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). President Erdogan often accuses the HDP of having links to the PKK, but the party says it is being targeted because of its strong opposition to the president. Dozens of officials and elected HDP MPs were arrested during a crackdown after a failed 2016 coup bid and writing in the Morning Star on 24 June Steve Sweeney reported that 51 of the 65 municipalities won by the HDP at the local elections in March 2019 had been taken over by government appointees and 22 of the party’s mayors imprisoned.
Meanwhile the economy continues to slip deeper into crisis worsened by the global Covid-19 pandemic. So the online conference on Sunday 21 June was of particular significance drawing together MPs, trade unionists and campaigners.
Julian Assange was too ill to attend the latest court hearing in his extradition case at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 1 June. The hearing which is described as procedural, heard from Julian’s barrister, Edward Fitzgerald QC that his client did not appear by video link because he was unwell. The court had previously heard that Mr Assange had received medical advice that using the prison facility could raise his risk of coronavirus infection.