Edinburgh clan gathering bosses say 'we got it wrong'

Organisers of the world's largest clan gathering, in Edinburgh last year, have admitted they "called it wrong", after the company behind it went bust.

It ran into difficulty after receiving £670,500 in taxpayers' cash, including an £180,000 interest-free loan, not disclosed at the time.

Company director Lord Sempill also said sorry for the problems, which left many companies working for event unpaid.

His comments came as he was grilled by Holyrood's public audit committee.

The Gathering, held last July, was the showpiece of the Scottish Year of Homecoming, which used the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns to attract tourists with Scots connections.

It lost more than £500,000 and owed £675,500 to creditors.

Public spending watchdog Audit Scotland later found that the Scottish government failed to complete robust checks of the company's ability to repay the £180,000 loan, which was later written off.

Under questioning by MSPs, Lord Sempill, said: "We put the budgets together, as does every company, with basically the best management foresight we could use and the maximum amount of input.

"I have to once again repeat, a project of this scale specifically in what we were trying to do has not been done before, and we took our best shot at the time and we had, as I said, a lot of input and, unfortunately, we called it wrong."

The event's other director, Jenny Gilmour, told MSPs: "Both [Lord Sempill] and I would like to express our deep and heartfelt sadness at the situation this has left our creditors in.

"Without the hard work and commitment of these creditors, many of whom I've worked with for over 15 years, we would not have been able to put on such a magnificent event.

"Despite the financial failure of The Gathering, we are still incredibly proud of the event we created and the legacy it has around the world."

First Minister Alex Salmond has previously defended the action taken by the government, saying it had saved an event worth £10m to the economy.

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