Did Fiona cross the line with T time grant?

Fiona Hyslop
Fiona Hyslop

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has called for an investigation into whether a Linlithgow MSP broke the ministerial code.

Willie Rennie has asked First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to clarify whether or not Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop, who has represented the town at Holyrood since 2011, broke the ministerial code by awarding £150,000 of public money to the T in the Park music festival.

Fiona Hyslop signed off an "ad hoc state aid" package for T in the Park. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Fiona Hyslop signed off an "ad hoc state aid" package for T in the Park. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Ms Hyslop said the grant was in line with cash given by the Scottish Government to other major entertainment events.

The Scottish Government awarded £150,000 to festival promoters DF Concerts last month to help with its relocation to Strathallan in Perthshire from Balado.

Before the cash was awarded, a former SNP advisor, Jennifer Dempsie, had set up a meeting between Ms Hyslop and the promoters DF Concerts.

The Scottish Lib-Dem leader said: “The recent revelations that a former SNP advisor 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.”

In response to a parliamentary question on the issue, Ms Hyslop said the award was given to the festival to help with the costs of relocation.

Her office was contacted by Ms Dempsie to reschedule a meeting with organisers after planning permission was given to hold the event.

She said: “Ms Dempsie did not attend that meeting or have any discussions with myself or the Scottish Government in relation to funding for T in the Park.

“The level of funding support provided this year by the Scottish Government is in line with the level provided by the Scottish Government and its bodies to the organisers of other major events such as Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, the John Muir Festival and the World Pipe Band Championships.”