4 Oct 2012

Scargill’s fight to remain in his NUM Barbican flat

The former miners’ union leader Arthur Scargill is due to give evidence at the high court in London today, as his old union, the NUM, effectively try to evict him from the Barbican flat he has used for more than 30 years. It’s the final bust-up between Scargill and the miners’ union he led during the year-long 1984-85 strike.

Arthur Scargill acquired a lease on the flat around 1982, when he became president of the NUM, as the the union was then based in London, though Scargill soon moved its headquarters to Sheffield. The NUM paid Scargill’s rent on the flat between 1982 and 1984, but ceased doing so during the strike.

But in 1991 the NUM agreed to resume paying rent on the flat and continued doing so for 20 years, until last year, when it ceased doing so. The current rent is more than £34,000, a huge sum for a union with fewer than 2,000 members (compared with the  170,000 when Scargill took over).

The NUM’s fear is that Arthur Scargill might get married at some point, perhaps to a woman much younger than him. Custom and practice in many unions is to provide accommodation both to officials for the rest of their lives, but also to any spouses who outlive them.

So the NUM is this week seeking a declaration from the court that it is not under any obligation to pay rent on the flat for any widow Scargill leaves. And they are querying the legality of contracts Scargill agreed with the union in 1991, and arguing that because of this they are nolonger obliged to pay his rent.

Scargill has apparently made a counter claim for the NUM to provide him with various other benefits. These include free tax advice from KPMG for the rest of his life; a burglar alarm at his Yorkshire home; and fuel supplies.

The NUM President Chris Kitchen was due to give evidence in court this morning. Katie Razzall is due to report on the story for Channel 4 News tonight.

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