Tayside and Central Scotland

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged to investigate £150,000 T in the Park aid

TITP crowds Image copyright PA
Image caption Thousands of music fans attended the weekend-long festival at Strathallan Castle

Nicola Sturgeon has been asked to investigate allegations of cronyism over a deal which saw T in the Park music festival organisers handed £150,000 in state aid.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie called on Ms Sturgeon to shed light on the circumstances of the award.

The money was given to event organisers DF Concerts.

The one-off sum was to help the festival re-locate from its long-held Kinross venue to Strathallan Castle.

The row about the money centres on a meeting former SNP adviser Jennifer Dempsie set up between Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop and 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.

Mr Rennie wrote in his letter: "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.

"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."

'Normal procedure'

In response, 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."

Ms Hyslop said the monetary award was given to help with the costs of relocation and Ms Dempsie did not attend the meeting she had had with DF Concerts.

She added: "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."

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