Probe Into T In The Park Grant

Public spending watchdogs are to probe a £150,000 grant the Scottish Government handed the T in the Park music festival.

Audit Scotland said that as a result of "public interest'' in the matter, it has decided to look at it as part of the 2015/16 audit of the Government accounts

Accusations of ''cronyism'' were made after Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop approved the six-figure sum to help the event move to a new site in Strathallan, Perthshire.

She has already faced questions over why the Scottish Government provided state aid to a profitable company with a major corporate sponsor, and over the role of former Government special adviser Jennifer Dempsie in facilitating key meetings.

An Audit Scotland spokesman said: "Audit Scotland's work helps ensure the public can have trust and confidence about how public money is used.

"Given the public interest and correspondence we've received on this matter, we've decided to review the funding provided to T in the Park as part of the 2015/16 audit of the Scottish Government's consolidated accounts.

"We will look at the relevant governance arrangements and how grant funding was applied in this case.

"The outcome of our audit work will determine when we report on our findings. If and when we identified any issues, we would bring these to the attention of correspondents, the public and the Scottish Government during the course of the audit.''

Opposition MSPs, who are concerned that questions about the grant remain unanswered, welcomed the review.

Scottish Labour business manager James Kelly said: "From the very beginning SNP ministers have been secretive and failed to answer even the most basic questions.

"Hopefully now Audit Scotland will get to the bottom of exactly what happened here. There is an urgent need for greater scrutiny of the SNP's record in Government, not just in relation to this payment but across the board.''

Scottish Conservative culture spokeswoman Liz Smith said: "It was clear from the Education and Culture Committee evidence sessions that MSPs remained unhappy about the lack of evidence to support a clear cut business case for the award and about the lack of detailed information regarding how the money was spent.

"Audit Scotland must now be allowed to pursue matters to provide the level of scrutiny which has been absent from the Scottish Government.''

Ms Hyslop told MSPs on the committee that festival organisers had warned they could move out of Scotland unless they could address the ''severely reduced revenues'' associated with relocating the event.

She insisted she had acted properly and the funding from the major events budget had been approved ''following a detailed consideration of options''.

Geoff Ellis, the chief executive of DF Concerts, later told the Sunday Herald: "I told the minister what was open to us. We could have had a single-stage event on multiple nights, which we would have had to risk far less money on, but the returns would have been broadly similar. But we don't want to do that.''

 

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