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
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas