Skip to main content
commons

Legal challenge mounted to pressure Government into releasing ERP data

The live music and theatre industries launched legal action against the Government to force the publication of the Events Research Programme (ERP) data, 24 June.

The news comes on the day in which a Government minister confirmed there were no Covid-19 outbreaks at non-socially distanced mass events piloted in England.

Addressing the House of Commons, tourism minister Nigel Huddleston, under whom the events industry falls, said: “Although we are not yet in a position to publish the full report, I can assure the House that post-event data closely monitored have not shown any evidence of the events causing outbreaks.”

Nine events were piloted in total, including a 500-person business event, the FA Cup final in front of 21,000 fans at Wembley, a live audience of 4,000 at the Brit awards, a nightclub in Liverpool which hosted 3,000, as well as three 10km outdoor runs for 6,000 athletes and spectators.

Among those leading the legal action are live music industry body LIVE and a range of theatre businesses, including Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group, Cameron Mackintosh, Michael Harrison and Sonia Friedman. The Event Industry Alliance, a coalition between the Association of Event Organisers (AEO), Association of Event Venues (AEV) and the Event Service and Suppliers Association (ESSA), have backed the move.

The legal proceedings against the Government have been taken with the intention of forcing it to hand over the report of Phase 1 of the Events Research Programme (ERP), which could be as early as 25 June.

Read more on Conference News sister title Access All Areas.

Conferences and exhibitions raised in the Commons

Speaking in the House of Commons on 22 June, Theresa Villiers, who is the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Events, called on Huddleston to release the report. “This sector has such a positive impact or on our economy, not least because it showcases the UK around the world it provides a platform for businesses to export,” she said. “It attracts inward investment, and yet it is on its knees as one of the last sectors still almost shut down because of the Covid emergency. So, will he [minister Huddleston] publish this data, which he has acknowledged, that the pilot events have not led to increased infection rates. Isn't it time to give the events and conferences sector of clear timetable for full reopening?”

Huddleston replied: “I couldn't agree more with the Right Honourable Lady about the pivotal role, and their absolute pivotal importance, to our economic wellbeing. A lot of the sales that go on at business events and conferences right across the country, and it's a major part of our economy we want to get it open as soon as possible.”

Huddleston added that a second pilot business event was being planned but stopped short of confirming where and when it would take place.