Sacha Lord withdraws legal threat as Arts Council and GMCA launch probes

Sacha Lord

Festival and club promoter Sacha Lord says he will co-operate fully with “fact-finding” exercises by grant giving body the Arts Council, and with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, and insists his £400,000 grant application by a former security company for cultural funds was a legitimate pivot. 

The GMCA and the Arts Council of England are separately launching investigations into an application by a business controlled by Lord, who runs the Parklife festival and the Warehouse Project, and is the unpaid but high-profile Night Time Economy Adviser to Mayor Andy Burnham.

After initially saying the matter was one for the Arts Council alone, the GMCA position has changed and is now: “We have also begun our own fact finding exercise based on new information.”

On his BBC Radio Manchester phone-in Mayor Andy Burnham responded to the story by saying any claims about Lord will be “looked at properly” but also asks that his advisor’s contribution to the region be recognised. 

Andy Burnham and Sacha Lord celebrate Mayor’s re-election

He describes a “sense of a bit of a campaign that’s being launched” against his supporter, friend and adviser.

The Arts Council of England has also said in a statement: “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.”

Lord, who appeared at an event with in April, where he was interviewed about his entertaining new book Tales from the Dancefloor, said earlier this week that he intended to take legal action against The Mill over the article ‘Exclusive: Did Sacha Lord cheat his way to £400,000 of public money during the pandemic?’ that was published on May 16.

That threat has now been withdrawn, but Lord insists he has done nothing wrong.

“The Mill made a series of extremely serious allegations against me personally. The Mill has alleged that Primary Event Solutions Limited deliberately lied in its Culture Recovery Fund application, that I am a dishonest person, and that I have misused over £400,000 of public money.

“These allegations are all false and I reject them completely,” he said.

“I believe The Mill’s allegations are based on a misunderstanding as to the nature of the Culture Recovery Fund as well as the nature of Primary Event Solutions Limited’s business when it made that application.”

In a lengthy statement Lord goes on to say that the application by Primary Event Solutions, and the name change from Primary Security were forward-looking in nature and designed “to support the future activities of Primary Event Solutions Limited and intended to enable that company to transition to a viable and sustainable operating model by 30 June 2021.”

He said: “The Mill’s repeated insinuations that Primary Event Solutions Limited had historically functioned as a security company entirely miss the point.”

In a further twist Lord said he will not proceed with legal action against The Mill, but “will review this position on an ongoing basis.” 

He added: “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.”

However, questions remain over why Primary’s pivot didn’t work, despite the support. The business was liquidated in September 2023 and according to the Statement of Affairs by liquidators Leonard Curtis it owed £67,000 to HMRC for unpaid VAT and £32,000 from a government-backed “bounce-back loan” provided via HSBC.

On Wednesday Joshi Herrmann, editor of The Mill, confirmed to that no legal papers had been served, though he had received an ultimatum to withdraw the story by 4pm on Tuesday, which he did not do.