Arthur Scargill Faces £100,000 Legal Claim From NUM
13 January 2014
Dan Johnson investigates the financial affairs of former miners' leader Arthur Scargill from the Miners' Strike to the present day
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is threatening to sue its former leader Arthur Scargill for £100,000, a BBC Inside Out investigation has found.
The money was paid to cover legal bills run up by the International Energy and Miners Organisation (IEMO), of which Mr Scargill is president.
The IEMO spent it recovering a loan of £29,500 given to former NUM chief executive Roger Windsor.
The NUM is also questioning other payments of over £600,000 to the IEMO.
In a statement to the BBC, Mr Scargill said the £29,500 the organisation recovered from Mr Windsor had been donated to the NUM and if costs were recovered, it would pay back more to the union.
Mr Scargill said the NUM agreed in 1990 to pay costs for the IEMO's legal action against Mr Windsor, who had still not paid the IEMO his total debt.
The NUM's legal action would also be against Alain Simon, general secretary of the Paris-based IEMO.
The BBC Inside Out programme says little is known about the role of the IEMO. No accounts have been published since 1993.
In 2010, the NUM's current general secretary Chris Kitchen stopped subscription payments of £20,000 a year to the IEMO, which had been paid since 1985 and totalled more than £464,000.
"The trouble happened when I was asked to justify paying that amount of money and I asked for sight of accounts from the IEMO and was refused to be given them," he told the BBC.
"It's difficult, you can't justify expenditure if you can't know what it's been put to."
Mr Scargill said the NUM had breached its own conference decision when it stopped the payments.
He said the IEMO's accounts had always been presented in accordance with the instructions of its congress.
Meanwhile, the NUM is also asking questions about a one-off payment of £145,000 paid to the IEMO shortly before Mr Scargill retired from the NUM in 2002. The union's national executive committee was never consulted.
Mr Scargill said the payment was a grant and because it was made by an NUM trust fund, it did not need to be reported to the union's national executive committee.
Since he stepped down as NUM president 12 years ago, there have been many questions about the way Mr Scargill ran the union and especially what he did with its money.
The union's bosses discovered they were still paying £30,000 a year in rent for his London flat.
When they stopped paying in 2011, Mr Scargill took them to the High Court, but lost.
'Economical with truth'
Documents arising from the case show that Mr Scargill, a fierce opponent of Margaret Thatcher, tried to use her "right-to-buy" legislation for council tenants when he made an application in 1993 to buy the Barbican flat at a discounted price.
Mr Scargill said the proposal, if accepted, would have been put to the NUM's national executive committee, and the flat would then have been transferred to the ownership of the NUM.
Other documents included a letter apparently from NUM vice-president Frank Cave setting out Mr Scargill's entitlement to remain in the Barbican flat at the NUM's expense for life. Mr Cave died of cancer a month after the letter was written.
In his judgment, Mr Justice Underhill said it was very unlikely Mr Cave had written the letter. There had been "a lack of transparency" in Mr Scargill's dealings, and he had been "prepared to be economical with the truth".
The judge said: "I believe he suffers to a high degree from the common tendency to reconstruct his recollection in a manner favourable to himself."
Mr Scargill said he played no part in writing the letter but, after an amendment to the letter made in Mr Scargill's own handwriting was produced in evidence, Mr Justice Underhill ruled against him.
Mr Scargill said he stood by his evidence, and that the judge "inexplicably disregarded" other evidence in the case, indicating Mr Cave had been "alert, aware and orientated" right up to the time of his death.
Arthur Scargill Loses London Flat Case
21 December 2012
Former miners' leader Arthur Scargill has lost his High Court fight to have the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) continue to pay for his London flat.
Mr Scargill was president of the NUM until July 2002 and led it during the miners' strike from 1984 to 1985.
He stepped down as president of the union but claimed his contract entitled him to a London home for life, or the life of his widow.
Chris Kitchen, NUM general secretary, said Mr Scargill had been "found out".
Mr Scargill said that the judgment was "perverse".
He added: "There can be no doubt that 30 years ago I was given an entitlement to a property by the union and that entitlement continued during my retirement, as it had done for all my predecessors including Lord Gormley and, after he died, his widow Lady Gormley."
On the question of an appeal, Mr Scargill said: "I shall talk to my lawyers about what the best course of action will be."
"I think any independent observer will regard this as yet another judgment with the anti-Scargill feeling about it," he added
After the ruling, Mr Kitchen said it was "regrettable" the NUM had to bring the case.
He said: "I would say it's time to walk away, Mr Scargill. You've been found out.
"The NUM is not your personal bank account and never will be again."
The NUM said the flat cost £34,000 a year, which it could not afford.
Mr Scargill, 74, said he was given use of the rented three-bed Barbican flat for life when he became NUM president in 1982, a tenure that lasted 20 years.
The union paid rent and expenses for the flat - rented from the Corporation of London - until 2011, apart from a period between 1985 and 1991 when Mr Scargill paid for it himself.
The NUM had asked Mr Justice Underhill at London's High Court to declare that it had no such continuing obligation to Mr Scargill.
The union also successfully disputed Mr Scargill's fuel allowance at his Barnsley home and payment for the preparation of his annual tax return but not the cost of his security system in Yorkshire.
Arthur Scargill In NUM Court Battle Over London Flat Costs
2 October 2012
Former miners' leader Arthur Scargill has gone to the High Court to fight an attempt by his union to stop paying the cost of his London flat.
Mr Scargill, 74, says he was given use of the rented three-bed Barbican flat for life when he became president of the National Union of Mineworkers in 1982, a tenure that lasted 20 years.
He says under the union's rental terms he should have use of it until he dies.
The NUM says maintaining the flat costs £34,000 a year, which it cannot afford.
The union paid rent and expenses for the flat - rented from the Corporation of London - until 2011, apart from a period between 1985 and 1991 when
Mr Scargill paid for it himself.
Counsel for the NUM, Nicholas Davidson QC, argued the case was about whether an obligation existed - not whether one ought to exist.
If it did exist, he added, Mr Scargill was entitled to have the benefit of it.
Mr Justice Underhill was told the court action concerned whether the NUM would have to meet the apartment costs for the rest of Mr Scargill's life and the life of his widow, should he leave one.
The court was also asked whether there was a limit to the fuel allowance for Mr Scargill's house in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, and if the NUM was expected to meet the costs of its security system and his annual tax return for the rest of his life.
Mr Davidson said that the litigation, which will look at documents dating back 30 years, was concerned with identifying what terms were agreed between duly authorised representatives of the NUM and Mr Scargill.
Timothy Pitt-Payne QC, counsel for Mr Scargill, argued he was entitled to the retirement benefits set out in employment contracts with the union and following decisions made by the union and its constituent bodies.
Mr Pitt-Payne also said he would seek declarations that the NUM should pay for the Barbican flat, including expenses from June 2011, and for the fuel, security and accountancy costs incurred by Mr Scargill since they were stopped in April 2010.
The hearing is due to take evidence from a number of witnesses, including Mr Scargill, and is expected to last for a week.
Mr Scargill was president of the NUM until July 2002 and led the union during the year-long miners' strike from 1984 to 1985.
In 2010 he was told he no longer qualified for full financial membership
Arthur Scargill Loses NUM Voting Rights
25 August 2010
Former National Union of Mineworkers president Arthur Scargill has been told he no longer qualifies for full membership of the organisation.
Mr Scargill, who led the union during the year-long miners' strike in 1984-5, retired as president in 2002.
NUM national secretary Chris Kitchen said Mr Scargill, who is from Barnsley, remained honorary president of the union, but had lost his voting rights.
Mr Scargill told friends he would fight the move, PA news agency reported.
He was among a number of people who received letters saying they were no longer eligible for membership of the union.
Mr Kitchen said Mr Scargill could become a "life member", "retired member" or "honorary member" but not a full financial member.
He confirmed that Mr Scargill had been sent a letter informing him that he did not qualify as a member according to the union's own rule book - which Mr Scargill was instrumental in drawing up.
Mr Kitchen told the BBC: "I shall imagine Arthur will be against it but unfortunately we have to abide by the rule book and he has been party to drawing the rule book up."
Mr Kitchen added that the the union's Yorkshire area section had reviewed Mr Scargill's membership and made the decision.
Former NUM vice-chairman Ken Capstick told BBC's PM programme he felt it was "the most disgraceful day" in the union's history.
"Basically the membership of the union [which Mr Kitchen] has removed from Arthur Scargill denies him any rights under the union's rules or under union membership."
He told the BBC he was unhappy with the role Mr Kitchen, who also heads the Yorkshire division, in the decision.
He said he felt Mr Kitchen had carried out a "witch-hunt" against himself, Mr Scargill and others also affected after some members began to raise claims of financial irregularity in the union.
He said: "He has removed one of the greatest trade union leaders that the NUM has ever had from membership."
Mr Capstick disputed Mr Kitchen's explanation and said that Mr Scargill still qualified as a member.
"Anyone employed by the NUM or one of its areas qualifies for full membership of the union under the union's rules", he said.
"Mr Scargill is employed by the Yorkshire area and has a contract of employment until the end of 2011.
"Mr Kitchen's actions are the actions of a desperate man.
"It will go down in the annals of trade union history as one of the most despicable actions by a trade union against one of the greatest leaders it has ever had," he added.
Another former NUM leader said he had also received the same letter and would be fighting the decision to strip him of his full membership.
Steve Kemp, general secretary of the union between 2002 and 2007, said that his rights would be "heavily watered down" if he accepted the offer of partial membership.
He said: "It looks as though the Yorkshire region has decided to look at the membership and get rid of a number of members which is astonishing especially at a time when unions are facing cuts and are losing members."
Mr Kemp, who has held his membership for 31 years, said the union had informed him he could not appeal against the decision but that he would still take steps to "fight" the decision, PA reported.
Mr Scargill, who is also currently leader of the Socialist Labour Party, has continued to carry out work for the union since stepping down as president - a role he was first elected to in 1981.
His clashes with then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during the 1980s miners' strike earned him cult status among many miners but the government refused to back down over its plans to close pits.
Although the NUM stood firm at first, miners began to return to work and industrial action was called off - weakening the power of the once mighty union.