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Who’s Watching Whom? – Coventry

October 14 @ 11:00 am - 4:00 pm

Ricky Tomlinson 'Special Branch my arse!'Sunday 14 October, 11-4

Coventry Central Hall

Free entry

The extraordinary lengths to which the ‘secret state’ will go to defend the Establishment.

Ricky Tomlinson, Helen Steel, Dave Smith, Chris Baugh

Sponsored by Unite Tom Mann branch and Coventry TUC.

Ricky Tomlinson and the Shrewsbury 24

Today, Ricky Tomlinson is best known as an actor and star of BBC’s The Royle family – but 45 years ago he was a building worker who, in the summer of 1972, took part in a national strike against low pay and poor working conditions.

In 1973 at Shrewsbury Crown Court six trades unionists, including Ricky, were sent to prison. The strikers and their families have campaigned ever since for the release of government documents showing interference and manipulation in their prosecution, and for their cases to be reviewed as a miscarriage of justice.

Dave Smith and the construction blacklist

For almost 100 years a construction industry blacklist was operated in secret to systematically deny work to thousands of workers involved in trade union activity. Dave Smith, one of those blacklisted workers, has documented that history and is the secretary of the Blacklist Support Group whose work led to a Parliamentary debate early in September. He is co-author of the explosive book Blacklisted: The Full Story.

Helen Steel and undercover political policing

In 2014 Theresa May, then Home Secretary, set up a public inquiry after it was revealed that undercover police officers deceived a number of women into sexual relationships to infiltrate political groups.

MI5 also directed Special Branch to spy on a number of left-wing Labour MPs, including here in Coventry. 20 years ago Helen Steel was sued for libel by McDonald’s in what became known as the McLibel trial, over a factsheet critical of the company’s practices.

The police sent an officer from the undercover Special Demonstration Squad to become Helen’s partner. She and other women known to have been deceived into relationships with undercover policeman continue to battle for justice.

Chris Baugh and monitoring of union activists

Secret government files released this year under the 30-year rule show that Margaret Thatcher’s government directly meddled in the internal affairs of civil servants’ union CPSA, the predecessor of the PCS.

The government was concerned about the growing influence of Marxists when the late John Macreadie won the general secretary election in the CPSA in 1987. “Subversives … cannot be tolerated in such jobs” one official memo has been reported as stating.

Chris Baugh will explain the union’s call for a public inquiry into the monitoring of trade union activists.

What links these cases is the extraordinary lengths to which the ‘secret state’ will go to defend the Establishment.

Come and hear first-hand from victims and activists, and find out in workshops how you can join in the campaigns for justice.

Spread the word with the Facebook Event.


October 14
11:00 am - 4:00 pm


Coventry Central Hall
Warwick Lane
Coventry, CV1 2HA
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