Ex-leader Arthur Scargill faces NUM expulsion

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Former miners' leader Arthur Scargill has been told he is being expelled from the National Union of Mineworkers.

Mr Scargill, who led the union through a bitter, year-long strike over pit closures in the 1980s, is among a number of people who have received letters saying they no longer qualify for membership.

Mr Scargill, the union's former president, has told friends he intends to fight the move,

He retained an honorary position within the NUM after standing down as a full-time official and has been engaged in work for the union.

Ken Capstick, who has worked for the union for 30 years and currently edits its Miner magazine, has also been told he is being expelled.

"We have been told that the reason we are being expelled is that we don't qualify under the union's rules," Mr Capstick told the Press Association.

"A number of us have been raising claims of financial irregularity in the union and I believe we are now being subjected to a witch-hunt because of this.

"We will definitely challenge this decision, which has been made on extremely spurious grounds."

The NUM and Mr Scargill proved to be a thorn in the side of the then prime minister Margaret Thatcher during the acrimonious miners strike.

Mr Scargill's defiant rhetoric in the face of the Thatcher government earned him cult status among many miners at the height of the unrest.

But he was equally unpopular in some quarters for what was seen as rabble rousing.

From a powerful and influential position both the man and the union have slipped from prominence.

A previous coal strike in 1974 had brought down Ted Heath's Tory government.

Baroness Thatcher made sure that history was not repeated 10 years later as the government and the NUM refused to budge on their positions.

The strike took a turn for the worse at the Battle of Orgreave , a coking plant in South Yorkshire, in June 1984. Police and miners clashed, resulting in bloody scenes and many injuries.

The strike started to falter as hardship forced many miners back to work. The industrial action was eventually called off and the government's pit closure scheme gathered pace.

The NUM's power and influence began to dwindle from this point on, and Scargill, once a much-feared adversary, found himself squeezed out of the political mainstream.

He is still involved in politics as leader of the Socialist Labour Party.