Howard Beckett has been busy recently, speaking at various pickets across the country as his campaign gets underway. Luckily these will not have cost the union nearly as much as when Beckett spoke at the Durham Miner’s Gala in 2018.
While it is fitting that Unite are represented and should support this important annual event, Red Roar were taken by the generous donation of £69,000 made to the Durham Miners’ Gala in 2018. This was the same year as Beckett spoke at the Gala.
Beckett has a professional history with the mining sector as his firm, that he co-owned with Marcus Bemrose, was fined £5000 in a miners’ compensation scandal. Beckett and two colleagues attended a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal hearing in 2009, to face claims and were subsequently fined for professional misconduct in the handling of cases under the British Coal respiratory disease litigation.
Three years later, Beckett and Bemrose left this affair behind though, selling their company to Thompson’s Solicitors, which provide legal services to Unite, for £2.69million despite BBH having assets of only £147,000 and only being valued at £253,000. Shortly afterwards, Beckett took up his position in the Union. Cut to a little of five years later when Beckett was given his speaking slot at the Durham Miners Gala where he talked about the need to rage at the ‘disgusting site of bosses of so called top companies earning millions of pounds, taking home in half a day what a worker takes home in a year’.
Luckily, Bemrose has also been able to find work, setting up Unite Home Services, a company promoted to Unite members which takes 30p of every £1 that members get in tax rebates or refunds through its services.
This weekend, whilst once again declaring that “[Gerard Coyne] will not get on the ballot paper”, Beckett said that he “was asked and given the privilege to speak [at the Gala in 2018]”. He went on to say that the fact he was invited to the Gala shows that any idea that he “ever contemplated taking money from miners’ compensation is a lie”. Members can draw their own conclusions as to whether the generous donation was in anyway linked to Beckett speaking in order to rebuild his reputation in the mining community.