THE Chester widow of TV star Ricky Tomlinson's former jail mate is calling on the Home Office to give her husband a posthumous pardon after losing his battle against Parkinson's disease.
Patricia Warren, 65, has spoken of the family's battle to secure an official pardon for her husband Denis - also known as Des - after his death at the Countess of Chester Hospital at the weekend.
Mr Warren, 66, of Queens Place, Chester, was jailed alongside The Royle Family star Ricky Tomlinson in 1973 for fly picketing as part of the national building workers' strike.
Charges of intimidation and affray were dropped and the obscure 1875 Conspiracy Act - not used for 98 years - was used against them at their trial, centring on a flying picket sent to Shrewsbury during the strike.
The pair, who became known as 'The Shrewsbury Two', pleaded not guilty but Tomlinson was sentenced to two years in jail and Mr Warren to three years.
After a failed appeal, the pair continued their sentences in 14 jails, encountering squalid conditions and hostility from prison staff in most of them.
Mr Warren, a steel fixer and trade unionist, was singled out for punishment, with many months of solitary confinement and cuts in visits from his first wife, Elsa, and their children.
Symptoms similar to Parkinson's dis-ease developed and Mr Warren laid the blame on the 'liquid cosh', the tranquillising drugs administered to difficult prisoners like him.
Next Wednesday, Mr Tomlinson - who has since become one of Britain's best-loved actors - will lead the tributes at Des Warren's funeral in Chester.
His face will be a welcome one for Patricia Warren who has seen the star lead the campaign for an official pardon for her husband, blacklisted by the building trade on leaving prison.
Patricia, who married Des in Chester in 1995, said: 'We hope Denis will get a posthumous pardon. The campaign will continue.'
Mr Warren's sister Kath Carter added: 'The Government has let members of the IRA out of prison. Why can't they give Denis a pardon? It would not be half as brave. It's such a feeling of injustice.'
Mr Warren served all but four months of his three-year sentence. He wrote a book, The Key to My Cell, in 1982, and continued to campaign on trade union issues.
But his illness became worse and he increasingly needed the devoted care of second wife Patricia.
Despite his struggle, his wife was immensely proud of his achievements, as were his friends Tony Benn, Dennis Skinner and Arthur Scargill.
'Denis opened my eyes to a lot of things,' said Pat. I felt very proud of him. He was a fighter and a man of his word.'
Mr Warren's family hope friend Ricky Tomlinson will now continue the fight for Denis' pardon.
'The Government won't listen to us,' said Kath Carter.
'The ordinary man is not heard, not like Ricky who has a platform.'
Denis Warren met Ricky Tomlinson last year for an award ceremony, organised by the National Construction Safety Campaign, which honoured the pair. At the event, Mr Tomlinson told of the hardship they faced in jail and the hunger strike both men went on because of the conditions that befell them.
'Denis should not have gone to prison,' said his sister. 'He was a man of his word and we could do with a few more like him. I was so excited when New Labour came to power. I thought Denis may get a pardon but the Government have nothing to gain from doing it.'
Ricky Tomlinson was unavailable to comment yesterday but tells of his friendship and grim prison life with Denis Warren in his autobiography Ricky.
Speaking of their time locked up, Tomlinson says: 'Dezzie had always been intense and dour. The injustice of his imprisonment ate away at his guts like an ulcer. I let my sense of humour keep me sane.
'Without the same safety valve, Dezzie swallowed the liquid cosh every night, hoping to sleep his sentence away.
'Ultimately, I believe this is what harmed his health - all those sedatives washing around in his system.'
Des Warren's funeral service is at Blacon Crematorium at 11.30am next Wednesday. Family flowers only, donations to the Parkinson's Disease Society.