Aslef's top officials face sack after battle of the barbecue

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The Independent Online

One of Britain's most powerful unions was in disarray last night with its three most senior officials facing the sack over a brawl at a barbecue.

One of Britain's most powerful unions was in disarray last night with its three most senior officials facing the sack over a brawl at a barbecue.

Shaun Brady, general secretary of the train drivers' union Aslef, Martin Samways, its president, and Mick Blackburn, its assistant general secretary, were suspended from duty and could all be relieved of their posts permanently.

In a move thought to be unprecedented in the turbulent history of the union movement, Aslef's national executive banned all three from headquarters pending an inquiry.

The principal altercation during the fracas on Thursday evening last week in a garden at the Aslef offices in Hampstead, north London, is understood to have involved Mr Brady, 41, and Mr Samways, 57.

David Nixon, a national officer, and two administrative staff were also suspended and could be dismissed for their part in the altercation. All six could face the charge of bringing the organisation into disrepute.

Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, will try to resolve the difficulties.

Mr Brady, a right-winger regarded as one of Tony Blair's few remaining union allies, said he had been through "absolute hell" since he was elected eight months ago after surprisingly beating the left-winger Mick Rix. He claimed the left-dominated executive had opposed him because of his pledge to change the way the union was run. Mr Brady said he was angry he had been suspended and threatened to take legal action. "I was elected by the biggest majority ever known and I have been suspended against the wishes of my membership."

Mr Samways declined to comment before the inquiry.

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