The government is in contact with the National Lottery Community Fund over its controversial decision to fund the LGB Alliance, it was revealed yesterday.
Chris Philp, the lotteries minister, told a parliamentary committee that his department had already contacted the NLCF once about the grant, and promised to do so again after an MP raised concerns with him directly.
Philp made the pledge to MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Committee after the committee member John Nicolson, the Scottish National Party MP for Ochil and South Perthshire, said the LGB Alliance had sent him “the most extraordinary, abusive tweets”.
Third Sector revealed last month that Nicolson had written to the NLCF to protest against its decision to award a £9,000 grant to the LGB Alliance.
The alliance said the money will be used to explore the creation of a telephone hotline for young lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
The LGB Alliance was registered as a charity last year, but this decision is being challenged in the courts in a case led by Mermaids and the Good Law Project, which claim the alliance discriminates against transgender people.
In his letter, Nicolson said he could not “imagine a less appropriate group” to receive the funding.
The charity said in response that it had offered to talk with Nicolson and the offer remained open.
Answering a question from Nicolson, Philp said he had raised the issue with the NLCF.
“We have been assured by the grant-making body, which is the NLCF – they are an arm’s length body, they make the decisions, not the government – that their decision-making process was in line with their policies and procedures.”
After Nicolson provided further details of the online abuse he had received, the minister said: “I think I should write to the relevant body again, the NLCF, asking about the due diligence process they may or may not have gone through, provide [to them] the tweets you refer to, and ask that those are taken into account before any further funding decisions get made.”
But the Conservative MP Damian Green disagreed with Nicolson.
Any social media abuse was wrong, said Greene, but he told Philp: “The characterisation of the LGB Alliance that you have just heard is, I think, incorrect.
“You should be aware that Stonewall and its allies are trying to cancel this organisation because they [the LGB Alliance] strongly disagree with Stonewall’s policies on trans issues, and this is a very live debate.”
Philp stressed that he would raise the issue with the NLCF but was not passing judgement on the matter.
Third Sector last month revealed that NLCF staff had also raised concerns internally about the funder’s decision to award a grant to the charity.