Labour Party Chairman Ian Lavery Kept £165k From 10-Member Trade Union, It Emerges

Rachel Wearmouth
(David M. Benett via Getty Images)

Labour Party Chairman Ian Lavery received £165,000 from the 10-member trade union he ran and some of the payments were disputed, it has emerged. 

Information from the trade union regulator, reported on BBC Newsnight on Thursday, shed new light on Lavery’s actions as general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers (Northumberland area). 

Lavery received in total £165,000 from the union and, the regulator found, was overpaid his redundancy but disputed how much he would pay the union back.

Responding to the report, Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner called the allegations a “slur” and described Lavery as a “good man and a friend”.  

Lavery denies any wrongdoing. Last year, both Jeremy Corbyn and the parliamentary watchdog also cleared him. 

The Northumberland Provident and Benevolent fund - a pot of money for sick miners - lent Lavery £72,500 to buy a house in 1994, a loan which, it emerged in 2016, was forgiven 13 years later. 

The regulator’s report showed Lavery had also been paying into an endowment fund to pay back the capital cost of the house. Newsnight reported that it had underperformed, but still paid out £18,000. 

The regulator also found that in 2005, Lavery sold a 15% stake in his house to the Union for £36,000. In 2013, the house was worth less, so he bought it back from the union for £27,500 - a notional profit of £8,500.

There are also “termination payments”, totalling some £89,887.83. 

Newsnight reported that the regulator found neither Lavery nor the union could provide documentary evidence of the process or the decision by which Lavery was made redundant - or why, given he was to become an MP, he needed any redundancy payments at all.

The union had overpaid Lavery’s redundancy by £30,600. The regulator’s report shows that the union asked for it back but the MP disputed £10,600 of it - and only committed to £15,000. 

Appearing on Newsnight to defend Lavery, Gardiner said: “I know Ian Lavery as a really good man and a friend. Any slur like this, any aspersion that is cast like this, they are the serious allegations you are making and of course they should be properly investigated.” 

Presenter Emily Maitliss challenged Gardiner to confirm the Labour Party would conduct its own investigation. 

He said: “Your own report says that the proper investigation, conducted by the proper authority, has said that there is no further case to follow.” 

He added: “The Labour Party will obviously want to satisfy itself that no member, we always satisfy ourselves that no member of the Labour Party brings the party into disrepute. 

“It is one of the fundamental principles, whether you are an MP, no matter who you are, whether you are the leader of the party or a constituency secretary, it’s important that no member of the Labour Party brings the party into disrepute. 

“But what you have said to me is that there was a loan arrangement, as I’ve understood it from your programme, I don’t know how that loan arrangement was finalised, but you have told me that the proper regulator for the industry has said that there is no further action to take. 

“Now, we will obviously satisfy ourselves that all of our members are fit and proper people.” 

Ian Lavery told BBC Newsnight said: “Under my stewardship, the union always complied with the rules and the Certification Officer signed off every year’s transactions. As the Certification Officer’s report makes clear, no member of the union, past or present, has made a complaint about the financial affairs of the union. I am pleased that the Certification Officer has decided to not appoint an inspector or take further action.

“This report should draw a line under almost two years of allegations and innuendo directed at me and my former colleagues. Our legacy is helping miners and their families when others abandoned them, bringing millions of pounds of compensation into the Northumberland Coalfield. I remain immensely proud of our record.”