Calls for public inquiry after shipyard workers 'denied justice for 40 years'

Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead
Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead Credit: Press Association

There have been fresh pleas for a public inquiry into a group of Merseyside shipyard workers jailed for protesting against job losses.

Opposition MPs have insisted the 37 workers at Cammell Laird in Birkenhead have been denied justice for almost 40 years and pressed for further transparency surrounding their case.

The men, some of whom have now died, went on strike at the shipyard in 1984 and occupied a rig being built at the site in a bid to prevent compulsory redundancies.

They were jailed for 30 days for contempt of court, dismissed from their jobs and lost their right to redundancy pay and their pension.

There has been a long-running campaign for justice, including calls for compensation.

Cammell Laird shipyard Credit: Press Association

Ian Byrne, Labour MP for Liverpool West Derby, added: "I fully back the campaign to secure truth and justice for those 37 Cammell Laird workers imprisoned in Walton jail in 1984.

"The 37 workers and their families have now suffered the further injustice of almost 40 years in which truth and justice has been denied to them by the state and, sadly, many of them have since passed away in that time.

"These workers were deliberately targeted in order to try and break the industrial action to save the shipyard and hundreds of jobs they were partaking in."

Justice minister Edward Argar, replying for the Government, said: "I understand there is no bespoke redress scheme for civil claims arising from committals for contempt of court, claims for compensation may be explored through the normal civil court process."

Mr Argar also said it could be possible for an appeal to the Supreme Court, adding: "I'm reticent to suggest these may be the solutions.

"But what I offer, in the spirit of a constructive response, is if (Mr Thomas) writes to me prompting me on these, I will ask that my officials look into greater detail those legal routes, to try and get a bit of clarity."

Mr Argar added: "While I am extremely sympathetic to the case and to the individuals and communities affected, industrial relations and how they were historically dealt with are not a matter for the Ministry of Justice and therefore it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the potential merits of an inquiry in this instance."