FORMER miners’ leader Arthur Scargill is suing his own union in a row over perks - claiming damages of up to £50,000.
Mr Scargill is taking legal action at Sheffield County Court against the National Union of Mineworkers, claiming he is owed more than £15,000 towards the cost of a car, as well as payment of other benefits including phone bills.
The 74-year-old, who retired as the union’s honorary president last December, believes he should have been given the money under his old employment contract. The court heard Mr Scargill ‘thought his legal entitlements were being trodden on’ when the union’s Yorkshire Area Trust Fund offered him just £50 towards a car in January 2011. He was hoping to receive 80 per cent of the cost of a Ford Mondeo.
He also wants the fund to pay his landline and mobile phone bills – an allowance that was stopped in April 2010 – alongside costs and interest.
Mr Scargill was president of the NUM until 2002, and led the union during the year-long miners’ strike from 1984 to 1985.
But in 2010 he was told he no longer qualified for full financial membership.
The court heard he was asked to supply the fund with a list of the duties he performed for them, after telling them he needed the car for union work.
James Laddie, representing the NUM, said Mr Scargill prepared a document but didn’t send it to the union.
“What this document shows is that there are large periods when you appeared to conduct no work at all on behalf of the Yorkshire Area Trust Fund, or the Yorkshire Area,” Mr Laddie said.
“You had to dredge through your records and your memory to show what you had actually done.”
Mr Scargill replied that he had done more work for the union divisions than ‘any other official in history’.
He said he regularly spent six days a week working 10-hour days in his office dealing with union business including legal cases.
Mr Scargill’s contract entitled him to assistance towards the cost of a car ‘at intervals of not less than two years’, at an amount to be decided by union trustees.
Mr Scargill – who lives at Worsbrough Bridge in Barnsley and leads the Socialist Labour Party – signed the contract after retiring in 2002, putting him on a pay grade normally worth around £26,000.
He is also embroiled in a separate High Court dispute with the NUM over a £1.5 million London flat.
The case continues.