Come clean over T in the Park cash, SNP told

T in the Park took place at its new Strathallan Castle site for the first time in July. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
T in the Park took place at its new Strathallan Castle site for the first time in July. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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LABOUR has called for a full disclosure of the facts surrounding the Scottish Government’s £150,000 donation to T in the Park after it emerged that the ­organisers met John Swinney.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Alex Rowley made the call after more details of the contact the festival organisers had with senior figures within the Scottish Government.

The £150,000 “state aid” given to the DF Concerts has been the subject of controversy because of the role played by the former SNP aide Jennifer Dempsie, who brokered talks between Nationalist politicians and the organisers.

Ms Dempsie, a former adviser to Alex Salmond and the partner of the Westminster SNP leader Angus Robertson, set up a meeting between Geoff Ellis of DF Concerts and culture secretary Fiona Hyslop, who granted the cash in May this year.

It has since emerged that Mr Swinney, the finance secretary, and Roseanna Cunningham, skills secretary, also met DF Concerts.

DF Concerts was given the money even though the firm has made pre-tax profits of more than £4.5 million.

Ms Dempsie, who started work for DF Concerts at the beginning of February, set up a meeting at the end of March between Mr Swinney and Mr Ellis.

Ms Dempsie also attended the meeting, which was said to be about the transport impact and economic benefits of T in the Park to Mr Swinney’s constituency. The venue for the outdoor concert – Strathallan – is not in Mr Swinney’s Perthshire North seat.

Ms Cunningham also met Mr Ellis in March. The meeting was arranged through her Perthshire South and Kinross-shire constituency office via Ms Dempsie.

It recently emerged that Ms Dempsie set up a meeting between Mr Ellis and Derek Mackay, the transport minister.

Mr Rowley said: “The decision to award £150,000 of taxpayers’ cash to a successful private business was always one that the public would rightly question. Now we are seeing yet another meeting between a big business and an SNP cabinet minister set up by a former SNP adviser.

“As the man in charge of Scotland’s budget, it would be extraordinary if the issue of state aid did not crop up in a meeting between T in the Park and Mr Swinney. “It is now time for full disclosure from the SNP about what has happened here, and the extent to which former government spin doctors opened doors for big business to receive public money.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The funding for T in the Park was approved by the cabinet secretary for culture, not the Deputy First Minister, and was awarded from within existing budgets following detailed consideration of DF concerts’ application and state aid rules.

“As we have already set out, the only ministerial meetings in relation to the relocation of T in the Park were held by Mr MacKay and Ms Hyslop, and funding issues were only discussed with Ms Hyslop.

“John Swinney and Roseanna Cunningham also met DF Concerts in March in their capacity as constituency MSPs.”

A spokesman for Mr Swinney and Ms Cunningham said: “T in the Park at Strathallan was a major event with the potential to bring significant economic benefit, as well as raising concerns over the impact on local transport and communities in the constituencies of both Roseanna Cunningham MSP and John Swinney MSP.”