Arthur Scargill ordered to pay rent as he loses fight to have union pay for London flat for life

Former NUM president: 'To any independent observer this is another judgment with the anti-Scargill feeling to it'

The legal battle has raged for years, but finally the former National Union of Mineworkers leader Arthur Scargill, will have to start paying his own London rent.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Underhill said the NUM was no longer obliged to meet the £34,000 annual bill for the £1.5m three-bedroom flat in the Barbican. Mr Scargill has occupied the apartment, rented from the Corporation of London, since June 1982. He retired in 2002.

At the heart of the matter were the precise details agreed at a meeting of the union’s national executive committee in 1982.

It was customary for retired union leaders to have a house effectively bought for them near the union’s London office, to be used not only while in office, but after retirement as well.

But Mr Scargill also had a mortgage paid for him by the NUM on a house in Yorkshire and it was also known  at the time of his election that the union was likely to be moving its headquarters outside London, which it duly did.

When Mr Scargill first occupied the flat the NUM numbered several hundred thousand members. Now it has less than 2,000, all of whom are paying around £20 a year for their former leader’s housing.

The rent and associated expenses were paid by the union until 2011, except for a period between 1985 and 1991 when Mr Scargill met them.

The NUM’s counsel, Nicholas Davidson QC, had argued the case was not about whether anyone thought any particular obligation ought to exist, but whether it did exist, based on documents dating back 30 years and the identification of what terms were agreed between duly authorised representatives of the NUM and Mr Scargill. The former leader’s counsel, Timothy Pitt-Payne QC, argued that his client was entitled to the retirement benefits under the terms of his successive contracts of employment with the NUM.

The union also successfully disputed Mr Scargill’s fuel allowance at his Barnsley cottage and payment for the preparation of his annual tax return, but not the cost of the security system at the cottage.

The judge said Mr Scargill’s predecessors had enjoyed the “very generous benefit” of having houses in or near London bought for them by the union, adding that they were also allowed to occupy the properties after retiring at a very low rent, or to buy them at a “very reduced price”.

But Mr Scargill had not taken up the benefit when it appeared in his first contract in 1982, although the union’s national executive committee had agreed to pay the rent and other expenses on his Barbican flat, which was near the NUM’s London HQ.

The judge rejected Scargill’s claims that the union’s payment of the rent on the flat was intended to replace the benefit his predecessors had enjoyed, and was, therefore, a lifetime benefit.

The judge said the claim was not reflected in the original minutes of the NEC, was not backed up by the contract Scargill signed and pointed out that the union had continued to subsidise the mortgage on his Yorkshire home.

After the ruling, the NUM general secretary, Chris Kitchen, said it was “regrettable” that it had had to bring the case. Previously he has said that the NUM merely wished to establish whether it was liable to continue making the payments, and if it was, it would do so.

The NUM was also concerned that it may be expected to continue paying rent for any widow he might leave. Mr Scargill’s long-term companion is his former press officer, Nell Myers, now in her sixties.

Speaking outside court, Mr Scargill, now aged 74, told reporters he would have to talk to his lawyers before deciding whether to launch an appeal.

“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,” he said.

That practice had been applied to his predecessor Joe Gormley – later Lord Gormley – and it was determined in 1982 that he was to enjoy the same allowances and facilities.

He added: “To any independent observer this is another judgment with the anti-Scargill feeling about it.”

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Commercial Property

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: KENT MARKET TOWN - An exciting new role has ar...

Financial Accountants, Cardiff, £250 p/day

£180 - £250 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Financial Accountants - Key Banking...

Regulatory Reporting-MI-Bank-Cardiff-£300/day

£200 - £500 per day + competitive: Orgtel: I am currently working on a large p...

Recruitment Consultant - Bristol - Computer Futures - £18-25k

£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures are currently...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices