FORMER miners’ leader Arthur Scargill was being paid £26,000 a year for doing “very little” work, a court heard yesterday.
Mr Scargill, 74, became a paid consultant to funds providing benefits for serving and retired miners after he retired as president of the National Union of Mineworkers in July 2002.
As well as pocketing his salary from the Yorkshire and Lancashire Area Trust Funds he received £14,064 for a Ford Mondeo in 2005 and help with his telephone bills.
But James Kelly, 52, a trustee of the Yorkshire Fund, told Sheffield County Court he never knew Mr Scargill was employed by the fund until May 2009.
Mr Kelly was at a trustees meeting on December 11 2001 in which the minutes show Mr Scargill was given a contract of employment signed by the trustees chairman at the time, Steve Kemp.
But Mr Kelly told the court: “When we heard in 2009 that we had been employing him all those years it was a bit of a shock.
“We never discussed the contract at the 2001 meeting.
“There was no mention of employing him, no mention of telephone expenses or car allowances or anything.
“The question has to be who drew the contract up.”
He said he never saw the contract and, until Chris Kitchen took over as NUM general secretary in 2007, he had never even seen minutes of trustees’ meetings.
Mr Scargill, from Worsbrough, Barnsley, is suing the Yorkshire Area Trust Fund for up to £50,000 damages and reimbursement of £3,114 for his telephones and £15,220 for a new car.
In his witness statement, Mr Kelly said: “As a trustee until May 2009 I had no inkling that the claimant was my employee.”
The fund stopped paying Mr Scargill’s bills in April 2010 and his full financial membership of the union was later withdrawn.
Mr Kelly said: “We were not only told that his phone bills were being paid from the fund but also petrol expenses, fuel, security and his personal accountant.”
Mr Scargill complained after the trustees offered him £50 towards a new car, which he claims was “irrational and not in good faith.”
But Mr Kelly defended the offer. He said: “I felt that the claimant had been paid a huge amount of money from the Yorkshire Area Trust Fund since 2001 and that he had done very little for that money.”
Fellow Yorkshire trustee John Gibson, 59, said in his witness statement that at the 2001 meeting he had no recollection of any agreement to employ Mr Scargill.
The court has already heard that, when he started his job, Mr Scargill sent a covering letter from himself to himself outlining the terms of his new contract.
But in the witness box Mr Scargill denied drawing it up himself. He said: “The contract was drafted by the union’s vice-president and chief executive in consultation with lawyers.”
Mr Scargill has denied suggestions that he performed little work for the Trust Fund and says he was involved in lengthy legal issues.
He compiled a list of 58 “cases or issues” he dealt with from June 2007 to September 2010 to show how busy he was.
One of the entries was: “The chairman asked me if I would sign five copies of a book for an official that was retiring.”
Mr Scargill claimed some of the work was “quite substantial” although from April to August 2008 there were no entries at all.
When James Laddie, for the NUM, put it to him that the document showed for “large periods of time” he did no work at all for the Trust Fund Mr Scargill replied: “With respect most people who know me concede that I have spent more hours on work for the NUM in Yorkshire than any other official in history.”
In separate cases, Mr Scargill is claiming reinstatement of further perks including the security bill at his home, accountancy fees and cash in lieu of a concessionary fuel allowance against the national NUM.
There is also a legal dispute over a £1.5m flat in London, which Mr Scargill claims he has free use of for life as an ex-president but that is being challenged by the union.
A judgement on the Sheffield hearing is expected at a later date.