Fiona Hyslop has raised more questions than answers about her decision to fund the T in the Park festival - and it’s now time for the First Minister to step in, the Scottish Conservatives said today.
The cabinet secretary was quizzed on cronyism and the proper use of state aid at a Holyrood Committee, but failed to give any solid answers to back up her decision. Asked about the business case for the decision to award £150,000 to the festival, she gave no explanation as to why public money was handed over to a commercially-viable festival.
It was also revealed that she met with Jennifer Dempsie, a former aide to Alex Salmond who was employed by DF concerts at the time, at an SNP party conference before the donation was given.
Fiona Hyslop said: “I was aware who Jennifer Dempsie was working with and yes, I did meet her at the SNP conference.”
But when asked who else was involved in the conversation she said: “Delegates from my branch. I can’t remember.”
Documents also show that the SNP party conference meeting took place before any meetings with government officials and future official meetings with DF Concerts were cancelled after the party conference meeting.
For three months, the Scottish Conservatives have been calling for the full facts to be known about why public money was used to fund an already successful music festival.
Scottish Conservative culture spokeswoman Liz Smith said:
“The culture secretary has raised more questions today about the controversial funding for T in the Park, than she has actually answered.
“T in the Park is a major cultural event, but this was public money and, to date, despite repeated requests, we have not received details of what was supposed to be a cast iron business case behind £150,000 being awarded to DF Concerts nor do we know exactly what it was spent on.
“Indeed, all we seem to get instead of clarity is lots of redacted statements. This is simply not an acceptable outcome to today's evidence session.
“It has also just increased suspicions that the grant was a done deal because of Ms Dempsie’s close connections to the SNP.
“The public will quite rightly be furious. T in the Park is a commercially viable festival supported by one of our largest breweries; the Scottish Government put on record today that it did not examine other possible funding sources in detail so this just increases the pressure on the cabinet secretary to explain why £150,000 of public money was required.
“It’s now time for the First Minister to step in and give us some straight answers.”