A businessman who helped organise Perth’s ill-fated Party at the Park festival has been banned from running companies over allegations he used a government Covid business loan for personal gain.
Peter Ferguson, 46, who lives in Dunfermline, was hit with the ban by the UK’s Insolvency Service last week.
The six-year sanction was imposed just five days before the announcement that Party at the Park has been cancelled.
But bosses insist it had nothing to do with the two-day event, planned for South Inch in June, being called off.
A decision by the Insolvency Service says Mr Ferguson’s ban relates to his time running another firm – Beautiful Digital Events Ltd (BDEL) – and his use of a £50,000 Covid bounce-back loan.
£50k Covid loan ‘not repaid’ to UK Government
On May 22 2020, the cash was paid into BDEL’s bank account.
Mr Ferguson is then said to have used £6,499 to purchase a vehicle for personal use on July 11 before purchasing a second vehicle for £12,600 on August 25.
“Between September 30 2020 and May 18 2021, Mr Ferguson withdrew additional £13,515 in salary, dividends and bank transfers,” the decision states.
“BDEL failed to be eligible for the bounce-back loan scheme as it was not trading at the date of the application and the loan was used for personal purposes and not to provide economic benefit to the business.
“At liquidation the bounce-back loan of £50,000 remained outstanding and has not been repaid.”
Mr Ferguson resigned from BDEL in April this year. The only other director – Denis Coyne – stood down in May 2020.
‘Festival cancellation not linked to company ban’
Asked about the ban and the allegations against him, Mr Ferguson told The Courier: “I can confirm that the insolvency of Beautiful Digital Events Limited had absolutely nothing to do with Party at the Park whatsoever.
“In addition, as there is currently an appeal and judicial matters relating to that company and the decision of HM Treasury, I do not think it would be appropriate to comment further.”
Mr Ferguson declined to speak further when asked about his ongoing involvement with Party at the Park – after he was copied into an email about the cancellation of the event on Monday.
He has also removed most references to his involvement in the event – and its sister festival Party at the Palace – from social media profiles after being contacted by The Courier.
John Richardson, another of the festival’s organisers, also declined to comment further.
Mr Ferguson was heavily involved in setting up the festival, which was initially due to take place in 2020.
At the time of its launch, he said: “Our event in Linlithgow [Party at the Palace] has a fantastic reputation of a safe, family-friendly festival that is just the right size.
“We limit our ticket sales purposefully to around 7,000 per day as it is not too big and not too small.
“We hope to replicate the success of our Linlithgow event in Perth and hope to establish them both as firm favourites in the summer events calendar.”
What does being a banned director mean?
The ban by the Insolvency Service means Mr Ferguson cannot be a director of any company registered in the UK or an overseas company that has connections with the UK.
He also cannot be involved in forming, marketing or running a company.
Anyone found breaking the terms of the disqualification could face a fine or be sent to prison for up to two years.
Why was Party at the Park cancelled?
Mr Richardson told The Courier that Party at the Park was cancelled as people are struggling to afford to attend music events.
He said: “If you look at websites like Ticketmaster, very few gigs are marked as sold out.
“There are events that would have sold out very quickly in recent years that are just not selling.
“We have three years of events that were cancelled [due to Covid] being squeezed in this summer and people don’t have the money in their pocket to go around.”