A Very British Conspiracy

Eileen Turnbull


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6 September 2022
ISBN: 9781804290149
384 pages

From the publisher

The story of the campaign for justice for the 24 building workers wrongly prosecuted by the state in the 1970s

In 1973 a group of North Wales building workers were arrested for picketing-related offences during the first and only national building workers strike in Britain the year before. It was a turning point for halting the growth of trade unionism in the building industry, from which it has never recovered. A Very British Conspiracy is the first book to tell the full story of how the state prosecuted these workers and the campaign that was established to overturn this miscarriage of justice. Eileen Turnbull uncovers government and police documents that reveal the careful planning of the prosecution of the 24 men. She forensically reveals how the state used the criminal justice system to secure convictions. It analyses how, in the absence of hard evidence, the Police and prosecution went to extraordinary lengths to criminalise trade unionists.

The premature death of the lead picket, Des Warren, was the catalyst for a group of North West trade unionists and several of the pickets to come together in 2006 to organise a campaign to achieve justice. In March 2021, the convictions were finally quashed by the Court of Appeal. The book describes how the pickets and their families felt after forty-eight years being ostracised and considered as criminals in their communities, as well as the response of the Campaign committee members who had brought this historic victory about."

“This is the moving and inspiring story of the determined search for justice for the modern day equivalent of the Tolpuddle martyrs against the full might of the establishment and the heroic role played by a very special woman.” – John McDonnell, MP

“Incisive, compelling and moving. Exposes in forensic detail how the Conservative government, police and judiciary interfered in legitimate trade union activity, colluding against building workers fighting for dignity, decency and safety. And charts how a 47-year struggle for the truth overturned one of the worst miscarriages of justice in British history. A magnificent book about working-class solidarity.” – Frances O'Grady, General Secretary, Trades Union Congress

“What a fantastically forensic account of one of the worst miscarriages of justice in our long trade union history. I want Eileen on my side on every occasion, her grit tenacity dedication and commitment for justice for the Shrewsbury pickets is phenomenal she truly is an inspiration to all workers. Her message is simple never ever give in never ever give up. Fight on and meet the many challenges, tell truth to power.” – Ian Lavery MP