Kneecap gets judicial review into political funding decision
Kneecap gets judicial review into political funding decision


Belfast rap group Kneecap has secured High Court permission to challenge the British government’s decision to block them from receiving a £15,000 funding award.

The Irish-speaking hip-hop trio were granted leave to seek a judicial review into claims that denying the grant unlawfully discriminates against them on the grounds of nationality and political opinion.

A judge agreed to list the case for a full hearing in November, after the group returns from a tour in the United States. Outside court, band member DJ Provai said the legal action was not about the money.

“Fifteen grand wouldn’t pay for the bar tab in America,” he said. “This is an attack on artistic culture, an attack on the Good Friday Agreement and an attack on us and our way of expressing ourselves.”

In December last year Kneecap sought funding for a grant intended to support the expansion of artists in global markets. The application was shortlisted and approved, but was blocked by the Tories for explicitly political reasons.

At the time a British government spokesperson claimed it was “hardly surprising” that it did not want to hand out UK taxpayers’ money to nationalists who they said are “opposed to the United Kingdom”.

Lawyers for the group had argued that the minister responsible, Kemi Badenoch, had abused her power for an unlawful purpose.

DJ Próvaí, who formed Kneecap with friends Mo Chara and Moglai Bap, said Badenoch had “overreached” by stepping in to deny the grant.

He stated: “We are paying taxes and surely we have a right to the benefit of those taxes, regardless of our political beliefs.”

Kneecap’s solicitor, Darragh Mackin of Phoenix Law, said the decision was an attack on identity, freedom of expression and the fundamentals of the Good Friday Agreement.

“The underpinning discrimination is hiding in plain sight,” he said. “The Secretary of State has now conceded that she has a case to answer, and we welcome the court’s indication that this case will be heard early in the new term.”

Kneecap were also given cause to celebrate after a major US music festival yielded to a campaign to drop US military sponsorship after it led a boycott against the festival.

SXSW, a major festival in Texas and Georgia, dropped the US Army as a sponsor following the boycott led by Irish music acts.

In a statement at the time, Kneecap said they were pulling out of a performance at the festival “in solidarity with the people of Palestine and to highlight the unacceptable deep links the festival has to weapons companies and the US military, who at this very moment are enabling a genocide and famine against a trapped population”.

In a statement on Wednesday, a spokesperson said: “After careful consideration of our offerings, we are revising our sponsorship model.

“As a result, the US Army, and companies who engage in weapons manufacturing, will not be sponsors of SXSW 2025.”

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