Scotland politics

Government's £150,000 T in the Park grant to be reviewed

T in the Park festival Image copyright PA

A public spending watchdog has announced it will review the Scottish government's decision to award £150,000 to the organisers of T in the Park.

The controversial decision attracted criticism from opposition MSPs, but the government said the money was to help the festival with relocation costs.

Audit Scotland said it would examine the grant as part of a wider review.

Officials said that if any issues were identified, they would be brought to the public's attention.

One-off sum

It emerged in July that the former SNP adviser Jennifer Dempsie had set up a meeting between Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop and T in the Park organisers, DF Concerts.

Ms Dempsie was working on a contract for DF Concerts as a festival project manager at the time of the meeting, which took place ahead of the grant being awarded.

The award of the funding drew accusations of "cronyism" from opposition MSPs.

Ms Hyslop has previously stated that the funding had been approved as a one-off sum to help the festival with the seven-figure operational costs of re-locating from Balado, near Kinross to Strathallan Castle, near Auchterarder.

Audit Scotland said they would be investigating the funding because of the public interest and correspondence they had received.

Image caption Fiona Hyslop approved a grant of £150,000 to go to the organisers of T in the Park

Controversy

Scottish Conservative culture spokeswoman Liz Smith said it was clear MSPs were unhappy about the "lack of detailed information" about how the money was spent.

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

"I think the public will be relieved that Audit Scotland has taken this decision to investigate the controversial issues surrounding the award."

Scottish Liberal Democrat culture committee member Liam McArthur MSP said the evidence to support the case for the T in the Park grant was "flimsy at best".

He said the Scottish government had "stonewalled for too long".

Scottish Labour's Business Manager James Kelly said there was an "urgent need for greater scrutiny" of government spending.

"People across Scotland will find it difficult to understand why a festival headlined by millionaires needed £150,000 worth of taxpayers' cash", he said.

A spokesman for the Scottish government said it was happy to help Audit Scotland.

He said: "DF Concerts have made clear the increased costs of T in the Park, amounting to close to £3m - and a reduced return - posed a threat to the longer term viability of the event itself as a multi-day, multi-stage event at Strathallan."

The spokesman added that the culture secretary had already set out the business case for, and the reasons behind the funding.

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