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
Life and Style
life
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
News
Joan Rivers has reportedly been hospitalised after she stopped breathing during surgery
people81-year-old 'stopped breathing' during vocal chord surgery
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
Life and Style
fashion

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

Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, UI, JMX, FIX)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, U...

Structured Finance

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...

SQL Server Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...

C#.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone