HORRIFIED organisers of a Capital film festival have hastily dumped a major sponsor - after it appointed a far-right extremist to an honorary role.
Arts charity and Edinburgh Short Film Festival partner MMBF unveiled English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson as a Goodwill Ambassador this week.
Festival director Paul Bruce split from MMBF after the Evening News got in touch - and promised to replace trophies bearing the charity’s logo for this year’s award winners.
“We’ve just learned that one of our awards sponsors has taken the decision to appoint Tommy Robinson as a ‘Goodwill Ambassador’ for their charitable work,” said a shocked Mr Bruce.
“The ESFF is, and always has been, an apolitical organisation dedicated solely to the furtherance of short film.
“We would never associate with any politician or political activist, let alone one like Tommy Robinson, and so we have removed all association with the MMBF from this date onwards.
“We will also make good to the award winners any prizes which they have been awarded. “The ESFF no longer holds any link with the MMBF and we withdraw any agreement to use our image, logo or any image associated with the ESFF, to the MMBF.
The decision the MMBF have made to appoint this person is frankly unbelievable and has also come as a major shock to us.
“We, along with many other festivals across the UK, have had a good relationship with the MMBF over the years and we have had no indication that this relationship was for anything other than the promotion of young writers, short film and short film-makers.
“Consequently, we will no longer maintain any association with the MMBF.”
Mr Bruce said MMBF had been a sponsor for three years and were supporting a script writer’s prize at this year’s event, to the tune of £1,000.
The festival will now pick-up that cost itself, covering prizes and the cost of new trophies.
MMBF founder Matthew Martino had been removed from the festival’s online judging panel today.
The Nottingham-based MMBF Trust was founded by Zimbabwean immigrant Mathetes Chihwai, known professionally as Matthew Martino, in 2013.
“MMBF Trust is pleased to announce Tommy Robinson as the Goodwill Ambassador for our Trust,” read a message on its website.
“A keen supporter of the world of media and the arts, Robinson will be responsible for briefing the Board of Trustees on initiatives within the arts we can work on to support more young talent.”
An outspoken critic of Islam with convictions for violence and mortgage fraud, Robinson, 34, will oversee MMBF’s new £100,000 arts grant scheme launched in February.
The festival hosted screenings at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse and Summerhall earlier this month as part of this year’s event, handing out three awards.