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Probe into Sacha Lord firm’s £400k Covid grant

The Parklife co-founder denies any wrongdoing over the £400k grant awarded to his Primary Event Solutions business

By James Hanley on 28 May 2024

Sacha Lord

Arts Council England and Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) are probing a £400,000 Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) grant awarded to a business controlled by Parklife and The Warehouse Project co-founder Sacha Lord.

The £1.57 billion CRF was launched by the British government in 2020 to help the UK’s arts and culture sector weather the impact of Covid.

Lord, who is also Greater Manchester’s night time economy adviser and chair of the Night Time Industries Association, threatened to sue online local news publication The Mill for defamation after it alleged Lord had made “a series of highly misleading claims about the nature” of Primary Event Solutions (PES), in his ultimately successful funding application.

The Mill‘s report centres on PES, which changed its name from Primary Security to Primary Events in October 2020 – three months before the application was submitted – claiming to provide a wide range of event services rather than just security. Lord served as a director of the firm, which was wound up in September 2023, owing £67,637. He said diversification of its activities had been on the cards “from at least July 2020”.

“During the Covid lockdowns, I knew of many businesses pivoting to new sectors to survive,” he said. “This was something I actively encouraged other businesses to do and I wanted Primary Security Limited to do the same.”

Lord said The Mill‘s allegations “are all false”, with lawyers acting for the 52-year-old demanding the website take down the story and issue an apology. However, he has since withdrawn his threat, saying he has opted “not to pursue legal action for the time being”.

“Following The Mill’s first article on 16 May 2024, in which very serious and damaging defamatory allegations were made, I instructed lawyers to commence legal proceedings,” Lord said in a statement. “However, I have decided not to pursue legal action for the time being, but will review this position on an ongoing basis. I believe legal proceedings would be a major distraction from my work and family life and I also do not wish to stifle The Mill’s freedom of expression even though — in this instance — I reject their allegations in the strongest terms.”

“In light of new information that has been directly brought to our attention this week, we will be conducting additional checks on the application”

PES applied for more than £480,000 via the CRF and was awarded a total of £401,928.

The Manchester Evening News reports Arts Council England previously received a complaint about the grant in December 2022, but concluded there had been no misuse of public funds. The Arts Council says it will now make “additional checks” on the January 2021 submission.

“In light of new information that has been directly brought to our attention this week, we will be conducting additional checks on the application from Primary Event Solutions,” says the government-financed development agency.

A GCMA spokesperson adds: “We welcome the Arts Council England’s decision to undertake additional checks and will co-operate with this work. We have also begun our own fact-finding exercise based on new information.”

In response, Lord said he would “fully cooperate” with the process and was confident that “the outcomes will confirm that Primary Events Solutions Limited has not misled the Arts Council or the public, nor has it misused any public money”.

Lord is night-time economy adviser to Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, who told BBC Radio Manchester the claims would “be looked at properly”, but called for “some balance and recognition” of Lord’s impact on Greater Manchester’s nightlife. He added there was a “sense of a bit of a campaign that’s being launched” against Lord, who had done an “outstanding job” for the region.


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