Heated exchanges over Pinewood deal

Tynwald buildings, Douglas

Tynwald buildings, Douglas

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There were bad-tempered exchanges in the House of Keys as Liberal Vannin MHKs pressed the Treasury Minister over details of investments in film productions.

Kate Beecroft (Douglas South) became frustrated when Eddie Teare refused to give a breakdown of the size of the investment in each of the four film projects approved since the Pinewood deal was signed, claiming ‘commercial confidentiality’.

This prompted the Treasury Minister to suggest Mrs Beecroft should keep her blood pressure down as there is a ‘lot of strain on the health service at the moment’.

Clearly angered by that comment, the Douglas South MHK thanked Mr Teare for his concern but said her GP had stated her blood pressure was that of a teenager.

Mr Teare said that since the transfer of the Media Development Fund to Pinewood Film Advisors in October 2012, Treasury has approved four projects in film production and invested a total of £7,801,000.

He said: ‘This is slightly ahead of our original expectation of two films per annum as quoted in our original proposal. The policy is to invest in a slate of films and each film should be considered as part of a portfolio.

‘Members will appreciate that the individual investment made in each film is a matter of commercial confidentiality, given the very nature of the business, the interests of the co-investors and the prospective future return we would expect to generate.’

Mrs Beecroft asked why he could not give a breakdown of amounts invested in each film, when the previous Treasury Minister could when funds were managed by CinemaNX.

Mr Teare said that we are now dealing with a plc and there are other co-investors in the films whereas before that was not normally the case.

‘So therefore there are commercial confidentialities here and I am not prepare to give details of the investments in each individual film,’ he told MHKs.

The Treasury Minister said the films involved are Camera Trap, Christmas Candle, Pressure and Our Robot Overlords.

Mrs Beecroft said she did not want to know the amounts invested by other parties - only that invested on behalf of the Manx taxpayer. Mr Teare repeated that he was not prepared to break commercial confidentiality.

Lib Van leader Peter Karran (Onchan) suggested that when people cited commercial confidentiality then ‘they’ve got something to hide’.

Alfred Cannan (Michael) suggested the Minister admit the Pinewood investment had been ‘entirely inappropriate’.

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