Poor communication plagued Gathering event, say MSPs

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Men in kilts at The Gathering
Image caption,
The Gathering was staged in Edinburgh's Holyrood Park in 2009

A probe into Edinburgh troubled clan gathering has blamed poor communication for the problems which hit the event.

Scottish ministers had to help rescue the 2009 event with a £180,000 interest-free loan, which was not disclosed at the time.

The Scottish Parliament's audit committee, which looked into the issues, said lessons must be learned.

The Gathering was said to have generated £10.4m for the Scottish economy.

But the company running the event lost £516,000 and went into liquidation, with £382,000 owed to six bodies and £344,000 owed to 103 private organisations.

First Minister Alex Salmond earlier accepted that more people should have been made aware of the government loan.

Publishing a report on the probe, audit committee convener Hugh Henry, said: "We believe that poor communication at key points throughout the planning, delivery and aftermath of The Gathering 2009 event meant that sometimes decisions were taken without access to all of the available information."

Contradictory evidence

The Labour MSP added that the committee was seriously concerned about "inconsistent and contradictory evidence" it received from witnesses during the course of its inquiry.

In particular, the committee's report found evidence from Edinburgh City Council executives was not credible, and raised concern over a press release which was said to have led creditors to mistakenly believe their outstanding invoices would be paid by an arm's-length council company, Destination Edinburgh Marketing Alliance (DEMA).

The council have since been asked to "clarify" its procedures, and the local authority's Conservative group is lodging a motion of no confidence in the leader and deputy leader of its Lib Dem/SNP administration.

The Gathering, held in Holyrood Park in July 2009, was part of the government's Year of Homecoming, to encourage people to celebrate Scots culture.

The event was put on by by private firm The Gathering 2009 Ltd, with a budget of £2.4m. It received £490,000 of public grants.

Company director Lord Sempill previously apologised for the problems.