RESIGNATIONS, RETURNED DONATIONS & A TWITTER STORM: ICON AWARDS CHARITY UNDER FIRE

The TIE Campaign are to return a donation of £1000 given by the ‘Big IMPACT’ charity, the organisers of the Icon Awards.

The move comes after Icon board president, James Smith, was forced to apologise publicly today after a number of ‘misguided’ tweets were sent from the Awards official account, seeming to question the motives of the TIE Co-founder, Liam Stevenson, when he questioned the awards’ ticket pricing.

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Tickets for the September event were set at £90 each by the Big IMPACT trustees, with a 50% discount for nominees on the shortlist. This caused outrage amongst many in the community, with claims of profiteering and inconsistency with the standard awards process of nominees being offered a free ticket. The decision to scrap fees for finalists was eventually taken earlier today, in a u-turn by the charity.

TIE were given the £1000 donation in 2017 when they were recognised as Charity of the Year at the glitzy ceremony in Glasgow. Co-Founder, Jordan Daly, was also named Role Model of the Year.

The reaction from community members on social media was instant and many were shocked and upset by the veiled attack on the highly successful grassroots campaigning organisation.

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But the storm comes amid troubled times for Big IMPACT, with award nominees pulling out and the resignation of Icon board member, Professor Craig White, earlier in the week, citing a “lack of timely, respectful and robust public responses”.

Award nominee Scott Cuthbertson, of Equality Network, has removed his name from the list of finalists in a statement on Twitter today, as have the TIE Campaign and Community Spirit finalist, David Dick. We understand a number of other finalists are also considering withdrawing their names from the process.

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Former MSYP Chris (@_plantbot), who was nominated in the Youth Icon category, also voiced his upset on Twitter too.

Pink Saltire have declined nominations in the awards for the past 3 years due to the lack of transparency around the links to previous organisers Paramount Creative, the lack of a clear nomination and judging process and the lack of affordable pricing for the community; all issues raised with the former Chairperson in 2016.

The Icon Awards are organised by a small group of volunteers, who oversee the nomination and judging process, as well as the entertainment and sponsors for the event. For 2018, this includes Chairperson, James Smith who is joined by Thomas Anderson (Inclusive Networks), Justine Smithies (Trans campaigner), Jax Quinn (LGBT at Sky), Steven Murphy (Barbara la Bush) and Russell Robertson (Councillor for Glasgow East Centre).

PrintHowever, the Awards are ultimately managed by the trustees of Big IMPACT, which was registered as a new charity in August 2017 with the Scottish charity regulator. It’s members are listed as Chair, Andrew David Scott alongside Greig Anderson, Emma Mykytyn and Sarah Paul. Big IMPACT employ an administrator who is the only paid member of staff, according to sources.

Charity trustee, Sarah Paul is the wife of Paramount Creative boss, Warren Paul, who was forced to pay over £100,000 at an employment tribunal for sexual orientation discrimination against a member of staff in 2007. It’s understood Big IMPACT share office space with Paramount Creative in Glasgow.

Concern was also raised by Stonewall Scotland Chief Executive, Colin Macfarlane earlier this week. In a tweet he said:

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Big IMPACT have chosen today to launch their Summer grant scheme, where local charities and groups are being encouraged to apply for donations from the money raised as the charity partner of Paramount Creative.

Pink Saltire approached Big IMPACT for a statement on the issues earlier today and no response has been received.

Instead, the full statement from the president of the voluntary judging panel, James Smith, reads:

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