Defending good unions doesn't mean protecting bad ones

The curious case of the Miners compensation money, a tiny trade union and Labour's Trade Union spokesman, Ian Lavery.

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  1. All the real reporting below was done by James Lyons of the Sunday Times. All credit should go to him. All I'm doing is setting it out in one place so people can see some of the paperwork for themselves.
  2. Ian Lavery, currently Labour's Trade Union shadow minister, is the MP for Wansbeck and served as the General Secretary of the NUM (Northumberland Area) from 1992 to 2010.
  3. The NUM (Northumberland Area) is an independent union, but also one of the constituent Unions of the National NUM.
  4. As the last deep colliery in Northumberland closed in 1995 (Update: Oops, Brainfart. Ellington closed in 2005. Sorry. That's why you need proper journalists who get paid to check details, not bumbling amateurs like me), the Northumberland Area NUM is not a large union. In 1996, it had just 290 members. By 2002, the number was down to 240, where it stayed, not changing by a single member, until 2013. In 2013, however, 230 of these stalwart members left at the same time, and just ten members remain.
  5. Nevertheless, the NUM (Northumberland Area) did quite a lot for some of its members.
  6. For example, Ian Lavery MP bought his house with a loan from a fund set up by his union.
  7. His loan came from the NUM (Northumberland Area) Provident and Benevolent fund, to be precise. Remember that name, if you can. It'll be useful later.
  8. The Union fund's charge on Mr Lavrery's was still registered with the Land Registry last month, though Mr Lavery says the arrangement ended eight years ago. He won't say if he has repaid the loan.
  9. A home loan isn't the only thing Mr Lavery got from his old union, however. As James Lyons reported the previous week, the 10 member union also paid out £85,426 in 'past General Secretary redundancy costs" in 2013.
  10. Mr Lavery says he does not recognise that payment.
  11. If he didn't recognise the figures, perhaps he could ask his old Union about it? After all, they share an office.
  12. Anyway, whatever did happen to that £85,426, we know it wasn't the only redundancy payment the Union made after Mr Lavery became an MP.
  13. Here's the 2010 payment in the NUM Northumberland official record for 2010.
  14. And here's 2011
  15. And here's 2012
  16. It's quite an unusual redundancy package really, as the National NUM records say Mr Lavery resigned.
  17. Did you notice another odd thing in those returns?
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