Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Arthur Scargill faces £100,000 legal claim from NUM

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Media captionDan Johnson investigates the financial affairs of former miners' leader Arthur Scargill from the Miners' Strike to the present day

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is threatening to sue its former leader Arthur Scargill for £100,000, a BBC Inside Out investigation has found.

The money was paid to cover legal bills run up by the International Energy and Miners Organisation (IEMO), of which Mr Scargill is president.

The IEMO spent it recovering a loan of £29,500 given to former NUM chief executive Roger Windsor.

The NUM is also questioning other payments of over £600,000 to the IEMO.

In a statement to the BBC, Mr Scargill said the £29,500 the organisation recovered from Mr Windsor had been donated to the NUM and if costs were recovered, it would pay back more to the union.

Mr Scargill said the NUM agreed in 1990 to pay costs for the IEMO's legal action against Mr Windsor, who had still not paid the IEMO his total debt.

Accounts 'refused'

The NUM's legal action would also be against Alain Simon, general secretary of the Paris-based IEMO.

The BBC Inside Out programme says little is known about the role of the IEMO. No accounts have been published since 1993.

In 2010, the NUM's current general secretary Chris Kitchen stopped subscription payments of £20,000 a year to the IEMO, which had been paid since 1985 and totalled more than £464,000.

Image caption NUM general secretary Chris Kitchen said he was refused access to the IEMO's accounts

"The trouble happened when I was asked to justify paying that amount of money and I asked for sight of accounts from the IEMO and was refused to be given them," he told the BBC.

"It's difficult, you can't justify expenditure if you can't know what it's been put to."

Mr Scargill said the NUM had breached its own conference decision when it stopped the payments.

He said the IEMO's accounts had always been presented in accordance with the instructions of its congress.

Meanwhile, the NUM is also asking questions about a one-off payment of £145,000 paid to the IEMO shortly before Mr Scargill retired from the NUM in 2002. The union's national executive committee was never consulted.

Mr Scargill said the payment was a grant and because it was made by an NUM trust fund, it did not need to be reported to the union's national executive committee.

Since he stepped down as NUM president 12 years ago, there have been many questions about the way Mr Scargill ran the union and especially what he did with its money.

The union's bosses discovered they were still paying £30,000 a year in rent for his London flat.

When they stopped paying in 2011, Mr Scargill took them to the High Court, but lost.

'Economical with truth'

Documents arising from the case show that Mr Scargill, a fierce opponent of Margaret Thatcher, tried to use her "right-to-buy" legislation for council tenants when he made an application in 1993 to buy the Barbican flat at a discounted price.

Mr Scargill said the proposal, if accepted, would have been put to the NUM's national executive committee, and the flat would then have been transferred to the ownership of the NUM.

Other documents included a letter apparently from NUM vice-president Frank Cave setting out Mr Scargill's entitlement to remain in the Barbican flat at the NUM's expense for life. Mr Cave died of cancer a month after the letter was written.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Underhill said it was very unlikely Mr Cave had written the letter. There had been "a lack of transparency" in Mr Scargill's dealings, and he had been "prepared to be economical with the truth".

The judge said: "I believe he suffers to a high degree from the common tendency to reconstruct his recollection in a manner favourable to himself."

Mr Scargill said he played no part in writing the letter but, after an amendment to the letter made in Mr Scargill's own handwriting was produced in evidence, Mr Justice Underhill ruled against him.

Mr Scargill said he stood by his evidence, and that the judge "inexplicably disregarded" other evidence in the case, indicating Mr Cave had been "alert, aware and orientated" right up to the time of his death.

Watch the full Inside Out report on BBC One at 19:30 GMT on Monday 13 January or via the BBC iPlayer for seven days after initial broadcast.

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