There was a period around the end of the strike when rumours in the press abounded that Arthur Scargill misused the £300 million held in the mineworker’s pension fund. Not being very political in the first place and soundly cheesed off by all things political by 1985, I just shrugged. The British Press, the Daily Mirror in particular had a wonderful time monopolising on the dispute to boost circulation figures and, like all the tabloids, lived for sensationalism. At the time the Daily Mirror was owned by Robert Maxwell, the man who chose to fall off the back of his yacht rather than live to own up to using employees pensions to prop up his investments. Quite frankly I would have believed anything of the NUM and the press. In writing this I decided to find out the truth, just in the interests of curiosity.
It goes like this.
The Daily Mirror reported on various financial misdoings including that Scargill had failed to account for NUM funds correctly and paid off his mortgage using the Mineworkers pension fund. Scargill never sued for libel, instead he called them malicious lies. It was however discovered that he had used the money to pay for improvements on his bungalow. This was added to sensational reports of large exchanges of cash between the NUM, Russian miners and Libya’s colonel Gaddafi. It’s alleged that Scargill deposited £1,000,000 of donated Russian money meant for Wesh miners in a Dubin bank until after the strike ended. In all probability this as just a slur originated by Roger Wndsor to extract funds from the newspapers on the back of some very sour grapes and a forged NUM document.
At the same time in early 1984 that Libyan nationals were being arrested for explosions at Manchester and Heathrow Airports and WPC Yvonne Fletcher was shot and killed in the resulting Libyan embassy hostage situation, Roger Windsor, the Chief Executive of the NUM, was visiting Gaddafi to raise funds. Later, around 1990 Windsor was ordered to repay a £29,500 bridging loan from Lbyan funds in a legal case that cost £100,000. In 1993 Scargill tried to buy a £1,500,000 flat in London under the governments help to buy scheme meant for council tenants, but failed on the grounds that it would have been a second home.In any event the £30,000 a year rent for the flat was paid by the NUM until 2011, When Scargill tried to sue the NUM for refusing to pay his rent, it was ruled that a letter from the NUM vice president setting out Scargills entitement to remain in the flat for life at the expense of the NUM was written by Scargill himself. In 2012 he took the NUM to court to claim compensation over expenses and suspension of his NUM membership and won £13, 000.
In 1993 Scargill tried to buy a £1,500,000 flat in London under the governments help to buy scheme meant for council tenants, but failed on the grounds that it would have been a second home.In any event the £30,000 a year rent for the flat was paid by the NUM until 2011. Using the same help to buy scheme Scargill bought the £2,000,000 flat for £1,050,000 in 2014 and in 2016 became the subject of an investigation. Scargills current Yorkshire home is still supported by the NUM to the tune of around £3500 per year
The mineworker’s pension fund had ten trustees, five from the NCB and five from the NUM, including Arthur Scargill.
More than anything Arthur Scargill or any NUM executive may or may not have done with the Mineworkers Pension, the scandal really lies with British Coal and subesquent governments since 1984. It’s estimated in some quarters that £9billion has been skimmed off the total pension fund. Using a cunning wheeze British Coal managed to fund not only the miners redundancy bill, but also the cost of closing pits from the miiners own pension fund. On top of this it seems that investments surpluses the pension earned have been used to fund miners compensation claims for pneumoconiosis and white finger. And on top of this, in exchange for underwriting the pension scheme John Major struck a deal for his and successive governments to have a 50% stake in any pension surpluses. The pension has never been in deficit, costing the government precisley nothing, but allowing them to use miners pensions to to bail out the banks and any number of other seemingly generous gestures. I very much doubt this practice will end any time soon.