Ricky Tomlinson: Guilty My ****

THERE are some people you look forward to interviewing more than others.
The Royle Family star Ricky Tomlinson definitely falls into the former category.
Now Ricky, 67, aims to put the record straight about his time behind bars: “I want to clear my name before I die,” he says.
Before his big break as Bobby Grant in Brookside, and later role as Manchester’s Jim Royle, Ricky worked on a building site.
In 1973 he was sent to prison for two years for his part in the national building strike.
BBC1’s One Life: Guilty My Arse highlights his story. He has always insisted he was innocent and the trial was politically motivated.

Press info for programme, which also happens to be the 50th edition of One Life, explains more.
He claims the “real conspiracy” was on the part of the Conservative government of the day, who were determined to make an example of the striking builders to stamp out the practice of “flying picketing”.
Ricky still describes himself as a “former political prisoner” and is determined to get justice for himself and the other men convicted with him.
A total of 24 workers were accused of violence and intimidation during the picketing of sites in Shrewsbury and Telford in 1972. But six of the 24. including Ricky, were special cases.
They were also charged under a 19th century law of having been part of a conspiracy to prevent the building companies from going about their “lawful business”, and three of them were found guilty.
One Life, due to be screened on Tue Mar 27, follows Ricky as he revisits some of the people and places connected to the strike.
Recently released court documents allow him to re-examine the case in detail for the first time.
Government papers, only just made public, also reveal the depth of political interest in the criminal case against Ricky and the others.
But ask him about his time in prison and he’ll always mention one positive aspect.
An astute prison governor recommended he read The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell.
And the novel, first published in 1914, helped change Ricky’s life.


Filed under The Royle Family

19 responses to “Ricky Tomlinson: Guilty My ****

  1. lynn greenwood

    Dear Ricky – feel for you so passionately. Been a party member for 26 years. The party have turned on us cos we don’t conform.

  2. chris marsh

    chris marsh chief shop steward & convenor anchor site scunthorpe
    sir robert macalpine 1972
    I would love to come in contact with
    ricky tomlinson

  3. Jill Goble

    Saw the programme tonight and definitely feel this was a stitch up by the system to curtail the justified unrest of the time. Ricky should have his name cleared.

  4. Andy Mac

    I don’t know who to contact; I just need to vent anger, mainly towards Ricky Tomlinson for letting the true Socialists of this country down. He used his status as a celebrity to attempt to justify his inexcusable actions and also those of his henchmen. Throughout the whole programme I found myself becoming more angry and incensed with what this man was saying. I wish I had the words to describe my anger (thought he was ok before I saw this). I could not believe his refusal to accept anyone’s word that differed from his own twisted and perverted view. That is not Socialism. The man is a disgrace. I cannot believe the anger within me right now. A so-called Socialist using his pretentious platform to work for his own personal agenda. Socialist? MY ****. He knows what happened at those picket lines and what he and those thugs did… in the name of who, what? How dare he, how he has the face, how he can live with what he did, how he continues to seek justification for his narrow-minded, brutal right-wing actions. He’s no Socialist.. just a thug who knows no better – that I can take. His belief that he deserves a “pardon” is 100% sickening and his misjudged attempt to tell his “story” I hope will be seen by all true Socialists for what it is; a sad, pathetic, jumped-up lovey looking for salvation. Sorry – you missed the target big-time.

  5. Ally Ross

    I watched this last night and thought that Tomlinson’s portrayal of the famous stereotypical Liverpudlian seeking justice was bang on the money. Brilliantly acted.

  6. Michael Bunting

    Saw the ‘One life’ programme last night and have to say that having been the subject of a despicable miscarriage of justice ten years ago, the scene in last night’s show where Ricky described the judge could have been me. I don’t know what happened in the 70’s, only the people there know the truth, but I do know what it’s like to fight the system and Ricky seemed pretty genuine to me. I’m looking to clear my name and would like to contact Ricky directly.

  7. David Lane

    Questions to Andy Mac. From what perspective are you speaking? Were you actually there or are you believing everything that you are reading about a past historical event that may or may not be slightly slanted. The man is giving the story from his perspective, you cannot condemn him for that; you would do exactly the same thing if you were him.

  8. Jayne McDermott

    Ricky’s treatment just shows how easy it is for the establishment to react to a body threatening it. There were a few inaccuracies in the case: Why did the man who had his head hit with a brick then go on to a meeting instead of reporting it to the Police immediately? Why were the documents in the National Archive only recently censored (11th Jan 07)? And why did MI6 get involved? The system wished to set a precedent, but Ricky should never have gone to prison.

  9. Jules Griffith

    I have to say that the programme did nothing to help clear his name! It did highlight political involvement, but not of the sort that Tomlinson suspected. According to the prosecuting QC of the original trial (who Tomlinson spoke to in making this programme), the government wanted to keep him OUT of jail!
    I was born after this whole episode took place, but looking back with no prejudice, i came away feeling that yes, there had probably been some degree of over-hyping by the media and prosecution, but that Tomlinson was also clearly part of a hot-headed movement of frustrated workers who were not willing to protest via the normal channels. Instead, they resorted to extreme measures, which for whatever reasons ended in violence and law breaking. I cant help but think that Tomlinson will never be pardoned.

  10. miss bromley

    A lot of people seem to believe that Ricky Tomlinson and those other men should not have been jailed even though many men were hurt, including the poor old man who I know who was blinded in those riots when he was just trying to do his job.

  11. Jason Jawando

    To Jayne McDermott, I would like to offer the following clarification: when government documents are released to the National Archive (usually 30, 50 or 100 years after they were written) it is routine for references to anyone still living to be deleted. This is what has happened with the documents Ricky Tomlinson saw. It is highly unlikely that he will ever see the missing content.
    In this respect, Jules Griffith is right to be sceptical about him ever receiving a pardon, as the true extent of any conspiracy against him will never be known.
    In other respects, however, I disagree with Jules Griffith. What exactly are the ‘normal channels’ through which the builders should have protested? This was not a small matter about which they were a little irritated: during the programme, Tomlinson points out that 150 people a year died on British building site in the early 70s. Just think about that: in Britain in the late twentieth-century, three people a week were dying because of lax safety standards. The Governments of the day (Labour and Conservative) were not interested, and the building companies had a vested interest in keeping costs low. I firmly believe that a national strike was the absolute right of the building workers, and the only way they could ensure decent working conditions.
    As to your point that the Government of the time tried to keep him out of gaol, this reinforces the suggestion of political involvement. There was in fact no need for any government minister to get directly involved in this way. No doubt they were worried that imprisonment for Tomlinson and Des Warren would make them martyrs, and their cause would become a focus for further protest – this, indeed, proved to be the case.
    To Miss Bromley I would say that I have every sympathy with any victim of violence, and deplore it wholeheartedly; this does not, however, justify the conviction of an innocent man. Ricky Tomlinson is adamant that he neither committed any violence, nor conspired to incite others to. Given the evidence of political involvement he deserves at least a fair hearing.

  12. Steve Elliott

    I watched the programme; I have also read his autobiography: I must admit I did feel as if an injustice had been done, not just to Ricky, but to all of them who were imprisoned.
    The bit where it really got to me and I knew that the “government” had been invloved was when he was looking at the transcipts and other stuff in the National Archives. He read a bit about “Box 500,” that was when I knew he was correct it what he was saying.

  13. Sylvia Kelly

    Ricky Tomlinson’s story is an example of an injustice perpetrated against an individual/individuals. For a further example please access http://www.captkelly.com

  14. John

    I watched ricky’s programme and do not think he will be pardoned which is a bit unfair as i believe he was imprisoned for being a union activist and nothing more. to jill goble it’s because of ricky tomlinson and people like him we are where we are today and kids aren’t still cleaning chimneys. and as far as his refusal to accept others points apart from his own well looking at it if i was the guy hit with a brick i dont think i would have been attending the meeting with a wooly hat on as though nothing had happened. Rightly or wrongly there was from what i could see no evidence apart from the outdated law which he and others were convicted on to say that he or any of those sent to jail were guilty of any crime other than being a union activist

  15. Sam Webb RIBA Chartered Architect

    I met Ricky Tomlinson at the Conway Hall in London shortly after he came out of prison. He gave a talk about his experiences and what led to the national building workers strike. Why did I go? I work in the building industry as an architect. Then I was teaching students building construction in a school of architecture. I took some along.
    Des Warren, Ricky Tomlinson and John McKinsie Jones were jailed because they dared challenge a building industry which allowed dangerous Dickensian conditions to exist on building sites throughout the UK. In 1974 166 building workers were killed. That year the Health & Safety at Work Act was passed. It had little effect in the building industry. In 1990 146 building workers were killed. Then in 1996 the Construction Design Management Regulations came into force. These had a revolutionary effect on the building industry and cut deaths by 50%. Last year, which has just ended, they were in the high 70s.They are still far too high. But that strike way back in the early 1970s was important. The conditions that Ricky Tomlinson and the others were campaigning for on site are now part and parcel of the new CDM Regs which came into force on 6 April 2007. The CDM Regs 2007 incorporate the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 for the first time. No job can start on site without the provison of clean drinking water, adequate toilets, hot water for washing and proper welfare conditions for the workforce. How do I know this? Well I was part of the team which helped draft them. There are still those who want to turn back the clock – just have a look at David Cameron’s Early Day Motion to get them thrown out and ask yourself why. Whose interest does he represent? “The Shrewsbury Three” went to jail for asking, among other things for asking for the proper welfare facilities now written into Regs 9(1)(b), 13(7) and 22(1)(c) and Schedule 2. In time they will be pardoned I am sure. And just as we see the Tollpuddle Martyrs as heroes so we will see these men gain their rightful place in history.

  16. Erika Coughlan

    I also watched the tv programme and found it very interesting.
    I was only a small child at the time of this event and have no recollection of this happening. I do remember all the other strikes during the 70s though, but obviously at the time did not understand why things of this nature were happening.
    As a trade unionist of today, I think we should commend Ricky for putting his neck on the line for a cause that he truly believed in. He was fighting for the welfare of the workers of that generation.
    Sadly I do not think he will ever receive a pardon and I believe we will never really know the full extent of the cover up.

  17. michael F. Murphy

    I am interested in the full range of comment — can I print comments please?

  18. Ian Wylie

    Michael – I’m not sure what you mean. You can, of course, print any of the comments on this blog for your own personal reference but any further re-printing or publication is subject to copyright and acknowledgement of the original source / authors.

  19. Barbara

    Dear Ricky,
    I am so glad you are doing this.
    I have also recieved injustice via the so called “justice” system. I was threatened with prison several times and terrorised. I won my case, but it took 7 years of hard fighting.
    We don’t have a justice system in the UK – we have a moneygrubbing social engineering elitist system instead.
    Ricky, you are awesome, please, keep fighting – the whole system is crook.

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