Chronicle readers can now listen for themselves to the exclusive taped interview with Ricky Tomlinson that has got everyone talking.

Click on the play button above to hear Ricky reminiscing about his links with Chester but also dropping his bombshell claim that the late Countdown presenter Richard Whiteley was an MI5 spy.

Ricky, 77, made the revelation after opening the new-look Bull and Stirrup on Tuesday which has been rebranded as a Wetherspoon’s hotel.

On the tape, readers can hear him talking about the days when he was a plasterer taking part in union meetings at the very same pub.

Ricky Tomlinson claimed the late TV presenter Richard Whiteley was a member of the intelligence services after opening a Chester pub.
Ricky Tomlinson claimed the late TV presenter Richard Whiteley was a member of the intelligence services after opening a Chester pub.

He and his comrades were organising for what would be the first ever national building workers’ strike as they strove to secure minimum employment rights.

When the strike hit, The Royle Family star and his colleagues picketed building sites in the Shrewsbury area leading to the prosecution of 24 men under the obscure 1875 Conspiracy Act.

Ricky and five colleagues went to jail for a crime they say they did not commit because of what the so-called Shrewsbury Pickets allege was a political conspiracy.

Ricky, speaking in the bar area of The Bull and Stirrup, told The Chronicle: “This is where all the decisions were taken and 40 odd years is a long time to wait for justice. It doesn’t seem to make sense.”

Ricky Tomlinson with his comrades at the opening of the new Wetherspoon's pub within The Bull and Stirrup in Upper Northgate Street, Chester.

But Ricky’s most astonishing claim - dismissed by Whiteley’s partner and a leading campaigner - is that the late TV presenter was working for MI5 when he helped make an anti-union TV programme which aired as the jury went out to consider its verdict.

Ricky Tomlinson's claim that Countdown host Richard Whiteley was MI5 spy creates waves

And the former Brookside actor, who is fighting to clear the names of all the Shrewsbury Pickets, says the clear objective was to persuade jurors to bring a guilty verdict.

Readers will hear him say clearly on the tape: “Richard Whiteley from Countdown was a member of the intelligence services.”

Ricky insists he has the evidence but was not prepared to pass it to The Chronicle. The story is so bizarre in nature that it was picked up by our sister paper the Daily Mirror on its front page along with other national titles.