Monday, 30 March 2009

Andrew Gilligan swings his hatchet one more time

You will by now have read this post about Andrew Gilligan's visit to the Starlight Music Academy last week.

Now read this article by the man himself and tell me he's still a credible journalist:

"The 6,000 square-metre building was at the centre of the City Hall grants-for-cronies scandal when Mr Jasper was accused of channelling millions of pounds of public money to friends' projects."

The 'building' was at the centre of the scandal? The building?!

"Mr Jasper was forced to resign after leaked emails revealed he offered to "honey glaze" Karen Chouhan, the married director of two of the projects."

What has this got to do with the Starlight Academy?

"Starlight claims it has provided arts outreach training for young people at risk since 1997, and in Lambeth since 2006. However, there are no current courses shown on its website. Its listed telephone number is a mobile which was switched off, and it failed to respond to emails from the Evening Standard posing as a would-be student asking about outreach courses."

There is no mention of his two and a half hour visit to the centre, nor the hundreds of visits he found in their log book for that week.

The man is a total joke.

14 comments:

Alex J Thomas said...

"Starlight also claims that the academy's instructors include [...] a Mobo-award winning singer."

Well, you did meet the man face-to-face, Andrew...

Brockley Nick said...

Shocking.

Helen said...

Scruple-free as always, Gilligan.

Anonymous said...

*award winning* investigative journalism at its best.

Anonymous said...

I hope the ES will sack him soon. They need a fresh start.

Helen said...

"The 'building' was at the centre of the scandal? The building?!" - you can't trust those buildings. I bet it's a member of the Communist Party.

Mark Lee said...

Now I like to bash Gilligan as much as the next chap - and there's a lot wrong with the article (casting aspersions about the number of people attending, despite clearly seeing this himself first hand, invoking irrelevant accusations about Mr Jasper, etc) but I am slightly troubled by the fact that Starlight isn't (apparently) a registered charity. Should buildings in public ownership be given to a non-charitable organisation rent-free? Personally I feel that such a privilege should only be afforded to those organisations who have jumped through the necessary hoops and offer the transparency of accounts that are required of a registered charity.

That's not to say that I don't think Starlight is a valuable organisation (TBH, I know precious little about it other than what I've read here and on other blogs), and there is clearly a group of people who find it immensely valuable (as witnessed at PQTs in Bethnal Green), but I do question why they aren't registered, and it makes me feel a little ill at ease.

Anyone who knows more about this care to shed a bit of light?

AdamB said...

Mark- Lots of voluntary organisations aren't registered charities and whether or not they should be funded by the LDA if they're not is a valid question. Having said that, even Gilligan himself didn't mention this and he did apparently take a good look at the accounts (something else he fails to mention) and seemingly found nothing untoward.

The LDA (under new leadership) have also taken a look at Starlight and decided to give it an extra year's lease although their future is still uncertain according to this statement from the LDA:

"The proposed redevelopment of Offley Works was postponed in January this year because of the current economic climate. The three remaining tenants appealed to stay in the building after being unable to secure new sites. The LDA decided to extend the existing leases as it provided a more effective and efficient solution than creating a voided space. So far the existing tenants have been granted an additional one month's lease to enable the LDA to obtain the necessary approvals to then offer them a further extension for the period of an additional year to the end of March 2010. New tenants have not been sought as we intend to pursue redevelopment proposals for the site when it is feasible to do so."

AdamB said...

Also, the fact that Starlight are occupying the building rent free is hardly news, given the fact that the arrangement was renewed and announced by the LDA in February 2008 and then renewed by the LDA and reported by Dave Hill again at the start of this month.

Tom said...

"I bet it's a member of the Communist Party."

It does look like a tractor factory...

Mark Lee said...

Adam - to be fair, you absolutely have a point RE the accounts; seeing as Gilligan pored over them, and didn't find anything newsworthy, despite evidently looking for *anything* to show SMA in bad light, that's probably a ringing endorsement of them.

Obviously I'm quite happy for buildings that would otherwise have been derelict to be put to community use... just thoughtful about LDA support for bodies which are not registered charities.

Helen said...

What right does Gilligan have to look at their accounts, anyway?

Tom said...

"What right does Gilligan have to look at their accounts, anyway?"

None, but if they want to show them, they can. If they hadn't, of course, he'd have had his story, so showing them was part of an evident strategy to spike him.

Rog T said...

The Andrew Gilligan Song

Lets all sing along !