Arthur Scargill loses court battle to have costs of his London flat paid for rest of his life by union


Arthur Scargill loses court battle to have costs of his London flat paid for rest of his LIFE by mining unionClaimed it was agreed with National Union of Mineworkers 30 years agoMr Justice Underhill ruled against the iconic leaderNUM General Secretary says it was 'regrettable' they had to bring the case

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UPDATED:

20:29 GMT, 21 December 2012

Defeat: Arthur Scargill lost his High Court battle to have the miner's union pay for the rent on his London flat for the rest of his life today

Defeat: Arthur Scargill lost his High Court battle to have the miner's union pay for the rent on his London flat for the rest of his life today

The former miners’ leader Arthur Scargill has lost his fight to have the National Union of Mineworkers pay the rent on his London flat for the rest of his life.

Mr Scargill, 74, had argued that he signed a contract which entitled him to a property throughout his retirement.

But the union disputed the claim and took the decision all the way to the High Court.

And today Mr Justice Underhill ruled in the National Union of Mineworkers' (NUM) favour stating that no such agreement had been made.

After the ruling, NUM general secretary Chris Kitchen said that it was 'regrettable' that it had to bring the case against the 74-year-old who was president for 20 years until July 2002.

Mr Scargill said that the judgment was 'perverse' and flew in the face of all the evidence.

He
said: '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.'

Asked if he will launch an appeal, he said: 'I shall talk to my lawyers about
what the best course of action will be, but I think any independent
observer will regard this as yet another judgment with the anti-Scargill
feeling about it.'

Mr
Scargill has occupied the Barbican apartment, rented from the
Corporation of London, since June 1982 – and the rent and associated
expenses were paid by the union until 2011, except for a period between
1985 and 1991 when he met them.

The
case was based on documents dating back 30 years and the identification
of what terms were agreed between himself and duly authorised
representatives of the NUM.

'Regrettable': General Secretary of the miners' union Chris Kitchen indicated they had not wanted to bring the matter to court

'Regrettable': General Secretary of the miners' union Chris Kitchen indicated they had not wanted to bring the matter to court

The judge rejected Mr Scargill’s
argument that having the union pay the rent on the flat was a
replacement for the benefit given to his predecessors – who all had
houses bought for them in or near London which they were entitled to
occupy before and after retirement at a very low rent or very reduced
purchased price – and therefore was also a lifetime benefit.

He
said the original minutes of the National Executive Committee (NEC)
from 1982 did not say that and it was not in the original contract which
Mr Scargill signed.

When,
in 1991, Mr Scargill decided he did not want to take up the benefit of
having a house bought for him but instead wanted the union to resume
paying the flat rental, he should have gone back to the NEC and sought
its authority, he added.

Instead,
said the judge, Mr Scargill obtained on his own initiative, and without
involving the NEC, legal advice which supported his right to have the
union pay for the Barbican flat and told the finance department to
resume payments.

Mr Scargill said he will talk to his lawyers before deciding whether to appeal the decision by Mr Justice Underhill

Battle: Mr Scargill said he will talk to his lawyers before deciding whether to appeal the decision by Mr Justice Underhill

'Although
Mr Scargill claims otherwise, the process of drafting the contracts and
obtaining the legal advice, which should have been on an arm’s-length
basis, was done entirely on his initiative and under his control. None
of this was disclosed to the NEC.'

'The legal advice was based on information provided by him which did not give the full picture; and anyway it could not make up for the absence of NEC authorisation.

'Therefore, when Mr Scargill retired in 2002, the contract which appeared to give him the right to have the union continue to pay the rent on the Barbican flat was not effective because the NEC had never approved his having any such right.'

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.