Scotland politics

At-a-glance: T in the Park documents

The Scottish government published more than 600 pages of emails and documents related to the £150,000 in state aid given to T in the Park organisers DF Concerts. Here is a run-through of what was made public.

The Jennifer Dempsie link

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At the beginning of January this year, festival organisers DF Concerts submitted a planning application to Perth and Kinross Council to hold the T in the Park event at the Strathallan Estate.

On 27 February, project manager Jennifer Dempsie - who had previously worked as an adviser for former first minister Alex Salmond - first contacted the office of Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop asking her to consider a meeting with the chief executive of DF Concerts, Geoff Ellis.

She sent a further email [details above] on 9 March requesting a meeting with Transport Minister Derek Mackay.

Arranging the meeting

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From 14 May to 21 May an email exchange takes place between Ms Dempsie and Lyndsay Stephen, diary secretary to the culture minister. The pair are trying to arrange a meeting between Ms Hyslop and Mr Ellis.

At one point Ms Dempsie tells the official that the meeting will involve herself, Mr Ellis and Jo Blyth, DF Concerts business development manager.

However, Ms Hyslop tells MSPs on the education and culture committee that Ms Dempsie did not attend the meeting, which eventually took place on 28 May.

Budgetary pressures

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A briefing note is sent from DF Concerts to the culture secretary's office ahead of Mr Ellis' meeting with Ms Hyslop. It outlines four areas in its budget which are "particularly pressured". They include;

  • Bridges
  • Water supply
  • Communications
  • And trackway

The briefing note concludes: "We need to push the button on these items very soon if we are to have an event in July; however, we urgently require financial assistance towards the above costs to support DF in making sure Scotland's most iconic music festival can happen at Strathallan in July 2015 but also that can be viable on an annual basis going forward."

Redacted pages

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Some of the documents published have either been completely or partially redacted. One set of papers was titled advice to ministers.

It contains;

  • background information about T in the Park [not redacted]
  • details about environment impact [not redacted]
  • Visit Scotland funding and Creative Scotland funding [redacted]
  • Transport Scotland's contribution to T in the Park [redacted]
  • police charging for public events [redacted]

The boss of DF Concerts

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The "advice to ministers" contains a picture and biography details for Mr Ellis. It says the former Middlesex Polytechnic graduate is "dedicated to bringing the very best live music and events to Scotland".

Hyslop says yes

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On 18 June this year - less than a month before the festival is due to take place - an email from Ms Hyslop's department is sent to Malcolm Pentland, government official for Major Events and Themed Years.

Some of the correspondence is redacted, but it states clearly: "Ms Hyslop has noted your advice and is content to provide funding."

A further email, dated 26 June, is sent from the minister's office to Mr Pentland, saying: "Ms Hyslop has seen and is content to fund £150k as you have set out below." What follows are six redacted paragraphs.

Information to the media

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The PR offensive is discussed once Ms Hyslop approves the £150,000 in state aid.

Mr Pentland advises - in an email sent on 29 June to press officer Christina Stokes - that a "reactive line" could include: "T in the Park is one of Scotland's most popular and successful annual cultural events and last year generated £15.4m for the Scottish economy.

"Recognising the benefits this event delivers for Scotland, a contribution of £150,000 has been made by the Scottish government to contribute towards the significantly increased costs of staging the event and to help its organisers in ensuring its successful transition to the new site at Strathallan."

Outlining the clauses

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Preparations are made ahead of offering DF Concerts state aid for T in the Park. An email from Mr Pentland highlights a clause stating that the money could be recovered if the event is not delivered at the Strathallan site for three years.

'It's approved' letter

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With the paperwork in order Mr Pentland writes to DF Concerts in July [undated letter] informing the company that it has been granted £150,000 in state aid. The correspondence runs to 12 pages and contains conditions and schedules.

Transport and logistics

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The published material includes more than 200 pages related to transport planning and event logistics.

Look in detail

The Scottish government published the documents - which had been requested under Freedom of Information - in seven PDFs.

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