An attempt by Sir Bill Morris to take a £63,000 luxury car as part of his union retirement package has been vetoed by senior colleagues.
Sir Bill, who is standing down as leader of the Transport and General Workers' Union (T&G), ordered a top-of-the-range Jaguar to be paid for out of union members' subscriptions and to be delivered as he left the organisation.
However union officers including Tony Woodley, the incoming general secretary, found out about the planned purchase and decided it should be blocked.
It is thought the vehicle in question was the Jaguar XJR which has a 4.2 litre supercharged V8 engine - a car that accelerates from 0-60mph in just over five seconds and has a top speed of 155mph.
The "basic model" - one of the most technically advanced vehicles on the road - retails at about £58,500, but it is understood that "extras" had been required. The "gas-guzzling" saloon covers 26 miles to the gallon and is therefore not considered to be environmentally friendly.
General secretaries of the T&G are allowed to take their company cars with them into retirement, but some sources said that Sir Bill's vehicle had been due to be replaced in May, but the purchase was postponed. His detractors believe he wanted the vehicle to have zero union miles on the clock. It is known that senior figures in the union were deeply angry about the price.
One of Sir Bill's allies said the general secretary had chosen to lease his existing car and claim the cost back from the union. "When he retires the arrangement ends so he would have been the first general secretary to leave without a car," the source said.
The decision to veto the purchase of the executive saloon marks a new low in the frosty relationship between Sir Bill and the general secretary-elect.
After his retirement Sir Bill has been touted as a governor of Jamaica, where he was born, but he denies having any such ambitions. Accepting a gold badge yesterday on his retirement from the ruling council of the Trades Union Congress, Sir Bill said he would be "slipping from Who's Who to who the hell was he".
He refused to comment on the decision to block part of his retirement package.Reuse content