Screen East goes into administration

Gov't-backed agency collapse amid allegations of theft

LONDON -- Screen East, the government-backed agency set up to support filmmaking in the East of England, has collapsed amid allegations that one of its executives has run off with the money.

The agency's finance manager, Melvin Welton, has been arrested on suspicion of theft by local police.

The agency invests in the development of film, television and digital media businesses based in the East of England and allocated north of £2 million ($3 million) across various projects last year.

Screen East CEO Laurie Hayward said the agency is "insolvent and can't meet its debts as they fall due" in a statement to local press.

"The directors have taken advice and appointed an insolvency practitioner to take the company into administration. We've no further comment at this time," Hayward said.

A spokesman for the U.K. Film Council, one of Screen East's two key financial backers, confirmed the agency was in administration but declined comment on the allegations of theft "due to it being an ongoing police investigation."

Screen East also secured duties to operate a £3.5 million ($5.4 million) low carbon digital production fund to promote greener documentaries, film, television and computer gaming in the region.

Productions backed by the agency include "Dean Spanley," starring Peter O'Toole and Sam Neill.

The collapse of Screen East comes at a time when U.K. public funding is under pressure from Government cuts and the recent decision to close the U.K. Film Council.