Call for probe into T in the Park funding

Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been asked to investigate allegations of cronyism over a funding deal for the T in the Park music festival.

Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has asked Ms Sturgeon to look into whether or not Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop broke the ministerial code by awarding £150,000 of public money to T in the Park.

The recent revelations that a former SNP adviser brokered the meeting between T in the Park representatives and Scottish ministers which resulted in a £150,000 state aid package being granted are deeply unsettling

Willie Rennie

The Scottish Government gave organisers £150,000 of state aid in July shortly before the event took place in its new Strathallan location.

Former SNP adviser Jennifer Dempsie set up a meeting between Ms Hyslop and T in the Park promoters DF Concerts ahead of the application for the funding.

Ms Dempsie was working on a contract for DF Concerts as a project manager on the festival.

Mr Rennie has written to Nicola Sturgeon urging her to investigate the circumstances of the award.

“The recent revelations that a former SNP adviser brokered the meeting between T in the Park representatives and Scottish ministers which resulted in a £150,000 state aid package being granted are deeply unsettling,” he said.

“Any indication of cronyism degrades integrity in government, so this matter must be treated with the gravity it deserves.

“The principles of the ministerial code state that all ministers have a duty to act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.

“We need to know that any abuse of power will not be tolerated by the Scottish Government.

“That is why I am asking you to investigate whether the Culture Secretary broke the ministerial code in this deal.”

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A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Details of the process leading to the award of £150,000 to T in the Park to secure its future at Strathallan and the inclusion of provisions for the Scottish Government to claw back money from T in the Park if conditions are not met were set out to parliament last week.

“The awarding of funding followed normal procedures and the ministerial code was adhered to at all times. The First Minister will respond to Mr Rennie’s letter in due course.”

In response to a parliamentary question on the issue, Ms Hyslop said the award was given to the festival to help with the costs of relocation from its site at Balado.

She said her office was contacted by Ms Dempsie to reschedule a meeting with organisers after planning permission was given to hold the event at the new Strathallan site.

“Ms Dempsie did not attend that meeting or have any discussions with myself or the Scottish Government in relation to funding for T in the Park,” Ms Hyslop said.

“The level of funding support provided this year by the Scottish Government to DF Concerts and Events for T in the Park is in line with the level of funding provided by Scottish Government and its bodies to the organisers of other major events such as Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, the John Muir Festival, the World Pipe Band Championships, Celtic Connections and the International Book Festival.”

SEE ALSO: SNP in ‘cronyism’ row over T in the Park grant

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