Union chiefs suspended over barbecue brawl

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The general secretary and president of the train drivers' union Aslef were both suspended today following a brawl at a barbecue.

The general secretary and president of the train drivers' union Aslef were both suspended today following a brawl at a barbecue.

The union's executive took the decision after details emerged of the incident between Shaun Brady and Martin Samways.

Mr Brady, who was elected general secretary last year, emerged from the union's north London headquarters saying he was angry at the suspension.

He is believed to have been involved in a brawl with Mr Samways at a barbecue in the garden of the head office close to midnight last Thursday.

The 16,000-member union has been hit by a series of internal disputes since Mr Brady surprisingly beat left-winger Mick Rix for the top job.

Mr Brady has complained that he has lost day to day control of the union after a clash with the executive over the running of Aslef.

The 41-year-old was presented with a jar of coffee last month by the executive after he complained he could not even buy office supplies.

The latest incident happened after Mr Samways, 57, returned to his union flat at Aslef's head office after being out for the evening.

He heard people talking at the barbecue and went outside, when a row broke out involving a number of people, including at least one female member of staff.

A fight broke out and one woman involved in the incident has since been on sick leave.

It is understood that some of those involved are considering making complaints to the police.

Mr Samways returned to his home in Doncaster following the row.

A QC has been appointed to investigate the union's finances over the past decade after complaints from Mr Brady.

Aslef's assistant general secretary Michael Blackburn has also been suspended, it emerged later.

He left the union's head office saying he was a witness to the barbecue incident and claimed he had tried to restrain one of those involved.

He said: "I cannot say any more because I understand that there is to be a police inquiry and that I am to be interviewed."

Mr Brady left the Aslef building shortly after the decision by the six-member executive saying he would consider taking legal action.

"I have been the democratically-elected general secretary for eight months. It has been eight months of absolute hell.

"This is not a battle between left and right - it is a battle between right and wrong. I call on the membership to get up and start fighting for the union.

"I was elected by the biggest majority ever known and I have been suspended against the wishes of my membership."