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Wednesday, 20 February, 2002, 10:51 GMT
Film Council accused of cronyism
Gosford Park
Seven Oscar nods for Gosford Park, which had Film Council funding
The Film Council, the UK's grant-awarding body for film-makers, has been accused of "cronyism" by the Conservatives.

The agency has been criticised for handing out lottery grants worth 23m to companies in which six of its directors have an interest.

Tim Yeo, shadow culture secretary, said it was "another example of Labour's cronyism".

But one of the film-makers involved, Duncan Kenworthy, producer of Four Weddings and a Funeral, dismissed the allegations as "a non-story".

The Film Council said most of the grants had been earmarked by the Arts Council of England and it only distributed the funds.

'Non-story'

The film-makers involved besides Mr Kenworthy include Tim Bevan, the producer of Notting Hill.

The grants and the six directors are:

  • Chris Auty - Film Consortium - 6.1m
  • James Lee and Duncan Kenworthy - DNA - 4m
  • Sarah Radclyffe - Pathe Pictures - 7.6m
  • Tim Bevan - Working Title - 1m
  • Paul Webster - Film Four Ltd - 4.5m

    Mr Yeo said: "I am not suggesting there is any actual impropriety but it appears that quite a large amount of money is being used to support projects in which the government's friends have a financial interest."

    Duncan Kenworthy told BBC News Online: "As Mr Yeo himself says, he is not suggesting any impropriety.

    Strategic body'

    "The board of directors is not involved in any financial decisions. There is a complete separation between the funding decisions and what the board of directors do."

    Bloody Sunday had Film Council funding
    Mr Kenworthy said the Film Council's task was not only to give grants to films but also to act as a strategic body for the development of the industry .

    "We want to create a healthy and self-sustaining industry and that is what the board of directors do."

    He said the accusations were perhaps inevitable given the fact the industry in the UK was so small.

    Budget

    "If the only people who can be on the board are those who cannot be affected by Film Council decisions then you would have people who are not involved in the industry.

    "How useful would they be?"

    The Film Council was set up in 2000 by the government and has a three-year budget of 150m.

    Recent films it has helped fund include Mike Bassett: England Manager, Bloody Sunday and Gosford Park.

  • See also:

    01 Feb 02 | Entertainment
    04 Jan 02 | Entertainment
    15 Mar 01 | Entertainment
    01 Oct 00 | Entertainment
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