Donald Trump

Various investigations and exclusives about Donald Trump published in The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday. Copyright belongs to the respective publications. Click the blue links where applicable to read the original web version of the stories.

Trump Turnberry – from The Scotsman – A investigation into how Trump Turnberry, US President Donald Trump’s flagship resort in Scotland, received thousands in pounds in federal funding from the US Department of State to host a VIP trip.

Donald Trump’s flagship Scottish resort received thousands of pounds in US taxpayers’ money to host VIP visits by officials from his administration, an investigation by The Scotsman can reveal.

The US president’s resort at Turnberry received more than £5,600 in federal funds to provide accommodation for the trip earlier this year.

According to a source at the South Ayrshire hotel and golf course, the stay was in connection with Mr Trump’s official visit to the UK scheduled for this July, which is expected to include Scotland in the itinerary.

The payment, sanctioned last month by the US State Department, represents the first time one of Mr Trump’s Scottish businesses has received direct federal funding from his own government.

It adds further fuel to the debate surrounding the ethics of the president’s ability to enrich himself through US taxpayers’ money while remaining in office.

A leading political watchdog in Washington DC said the payments indicated Mr Trump was putting his “personal financial interests” before his presidency.

The payments to Turnberry, which was last month named Hotel of the Year at the Scottish Hotel Awards, were authorised by the State Department’s bureau of European and Eurasian affairs, which is responsible for developing and implementing US foreign policy.

The money was subsequently awarded to Mr Trump’s firm via the American Embassy in London.

Purchase orders obtained by The Scotsman detail the payment as being for “hotel rooms for VIP visit.” They show that an initial payment of $10,113 (£7,447) was transferred to SLC Turnberry Limited on 5 April. Some $2,444 (£1,799) was returned to the State Department a few weeks later on 26 April.

The identity of the VIP or VIPs who stayed at Turnberry – which recorded losses of £17.6m in 2016 – has not been disclosed, although Mr Trump’s son, Eric, who has been tasked with running the Trump Organisation’s global network of prestigious golf resorts in his father’s absence, is a regular visitor to South Ayrshire.

A source at Trump Turnberry said the State Department co-ordinated visit was in connection with Mr Trump’s scheduled official visit to the UK in July. The trip was confirmed on 25 April, and the itinerary is expected to take in Scotland.

The source explained: “The hotel regularly welcomes people who are connected with Mr Trump, especially his son, Eric, who’s here several times a year.

“The visit this time was part of the plans for Mr Trump coming to the UK, although we haven’t been told if he’s visiting Turnberry on the trip.” The source was unable to confirm whether the US officials were members of the Secret Service, but is understood the money spent included accommodation costs for a security detail accompanying the unnamed party visiting Turnberry.

The US federal records describe the direct recipient of the money, SLC Turnberry Limited, as a “US owned business,” even though it is registered in the UK.

SLC Turnberry and Mr Trump’s other Scottish assets, such as Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeenshire, form part of a parent company, Golf Recreation Scotland Limited. Although Mr Trump resigned as a director of SLC Turnberry and Golf Recreation Scotland last January, he remains their ultimate owner.

Accounts filed with Companies House show that Golf Recreation Scotland is in turn controlled by The Donald J Trump Revocable Trust, a state grantor trust based in New York, which is managed by Eric and his brother, Donald Jr. However, the Companies House records show Mr Trump is the trust’s ultimate owner.

Before the 71-year-old was swept into power in Washington DC, his Scottish firms were owned by Turnberry Scotland Managing Member Corp, based in the US state of Delaware.

Brendan Fischer, director of federal reform at the Campaign Legal Centre, a Washington DC-based non-partisan political watchdog, said: “It is very difficult to see how it is in the US public’s interest for President Trump to spend taxpayer funds visiting his golf course on an official trip – although it is certainly in the president’s personal financial interest.”

Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Greens co-convener and a vocal critic of the US president, said Mr Trump would not be perturbed by the fact he is profiting from his own government.

He said: “Trump’s self-serving behaviour is par for the course, and every bit as abhorrent as his disrespect for women, migrants, gun victims, the climate crisis or world peace.

“He’ll see nothing wrong in his businesses being enriched due to his presidency, when any decent person would make a clean break to show their priority is serving the public, not building up their bank balance.”

Mr Harvie added: “As US agencies prepare for his visit, Greens are ready to stand with anyone who shares our long-held view that this bigot and charlatan is not welcome in Scotland.

It comes amid growing unrest in the US about the intersection between Mr Trump’s businesses and his work in government. His portfolio of properties in the US has received upwards of £150,000 in taxpayers’ money since he launched his bid for the White House.

Last month, a report by Public Citizen, a Washington-based nonprofit group, concluded that Mr Trump’s US businesses have received around $15.1m (£11.1m) in revenue from federal agencies and political organisations since he announced his candidacy for the presidency.

The report, which analysed records of taxpayers’ money spent at the 71-year-old’s property empire found that the US Defence Department has made payments of $138,093 (£101,701), while the US Secret Service has paid Trump’s firms $64,090 (£47,201). A further $4,364 (£3,214) in federal spending came from agencies such as the White House National Security Council and the General Services Administration.

According to the Public Citizen report, entitled ‘The Art of the (Self) Deal’, the only other foreign business owned by Mr Trump to have received US federal money is his Trump Ocean Club hotel in Panama, which was paid $632 (£465) by the local US embassy.

The conflict of interest surrounding Mr Trump’s inability – or unwillingness – to separate his businesses from his presidency has been a constant source of controversy over the course of his administration. Last July, Walter Shaub, head of the independent Office of Government Ethics, resigned his position.

Mr Shaub had criticised Mr Trump for not divesting from his holdings, and said that be was “extremely troubled” by how he had simply turned over his various investments to his two oldest sons. Mr Shaub is now senior director of ethics at the Campaign Legal Centre.

Mr Trump is exempt from the ethics statutes which prohibit federal employees from taking action on issues where they have a personal financial interest in the decision. But the US constitution prevents the president from taking emoluments – or gifts – from foreign governments or individual US states.

Speaking in January, Mr Trump expressed regret at how he had been unable to visit Scotland since he became US president, describing the country as a “very special place” with “very special people.”

When asked who stayed at Turnberry, the purpose of their visit, and why the hotel was chosen, a spokeswoman for the US State Department said: “We refer you to the US Secret Service.”

The Secret Service did not respond to The Scotsman’s enquiry.

Trump Turnberry paying women employees less than men – from The Scotsman – A investigation into how Trump Turnberry, US President Donald Trump’s flagship resort in Scotland, is paying women less in wages and bonuses, with men outnumbered women by 4:1 in senior executive roles.

Women employed by Donald Trump’s flagship Scottish golfing resort are being paid bonuses worth less than half of those received by their male colleagues, The Scotsman can reveal.

There are four times as many men as women occupying executive positions at the US president’s Trump Turnberry company.

Management at Turnberry, one of Mr Trump’s most prestigious overseas properties, blamed the “male dominated functions” associated with golf clubs for the shortfall in female leaders and the wide bonus gap, which means women receive nearly £1,400 less than their male counterparts.

But Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said the size of the company’s bonus gap “cannot be justified” or “explained away.”The internally compiled report at Turnberry – owned by the president since April 2014 and now run by his sons, Eric and Donald Jr – is believed to be the first time the gender pay gap has been disclosed at any of the Trump Organisation’s global network of firms.

The figures also sit uneasy with claims by Michael Cohen, Mr Trump’s embattled personal attorney, who said the president’s business empire employed more women executives than men.

The report, drawn up in March, shows that the mean gender pay gap for female employees is 13.69 per cent lower than the male equivalent, meaning they earn 86 pence for every £1 that their male colleagues earn. While that is below the average UK mean gender pay gap of 17.4 per cent, it is higher than the average of 8.2 per cent in the accommodation and food services sector.

There was no difference in the median gender pay gap between Turnberry’s male and female employees, which reflects the fact the majority of the highest-paid roles are filled by men.

The widest gender gap was to be found in the bonus culture at the 800 acre resort. The average median bonus paid to men is £2,506, but the sum drops to just £1,116 among women, a shortfall of 53.5 per cent. The average mean bonus paid to men is £3,317, which drops 48.9 per cent for female employees, who receive £1,695.

While seven women received bonus in the 12 months to April 2017, the number jumped to 11 for men.

Turnberry’s management said the bonus gap was “due to the number of senior leadership roles undertaken by males,” with eight men in executive committee leadership positions compared to just two women. They said such an imbalance was “reflective of the male-dominated functions present in a golf resort.”

They added: “We our confident that all our human resources processes and practices ensure that men and women are paid equally for doing equivalent jobs.”

While some 46.8 per cent of the lowest paid jobs at Turnberry are occupied by women, the percentage drops to just 31.2 per cent for the highest paid quintile.

Ms Smethers said. “Trump Turnberry is similar to many other UK workplaces. Men dominate the top and women are undervalued and underpaid. Bonus gaps of over 50 per cent simply cannot be justified and explained away.”

Anna Ritchie Allan, executive director of Close the Gap, also dismissed Trump Turnberry’s explanations for the pay inequalities.

She said: “We’re increasingly seeing employers cite the causes of their pay gap, such having more men in senior roles, as a justification for the gap.

“This feeds the misconception that having men in high-paid jobs and women in low-paid jobs is an inevitable outcome.”

She added: “Identifying why you’ve got a pay gap should just be the first step. Addressing pay discrimination is critical, but companies also have to look at the types of jobs men and women are doing.

“They have to examine how workplace culture impacts on men and women differently, and then change their practice to ensure that women are not disadvantaged.”

Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie said: “Trump is a sexist bully, so the fact that equal pay doesn’t seem to matter at his golf courses will surprise no one.”

In a November 2015 interview, Mr Trump, then running for the presidency, defended his recruitment policies over the years and claimed he was a longstanding champion of women’s rights in the workplace. “I have been very, very good for women,” he said. “I was way ahead of the curve.”

In the same Washington Post interview, Mr Cohen described Mr Trump as a “performance-based individual” who did not care if an employee’s name was “Mary or Joe.”

He added: “There are more female executives at the Trump Organisation than there are male. And women who are similarly situated in positions similar to that of their male counterparts, are actually paid more.”

Since taking up office in the White House, Mr Trump has been roundly criticised for failing to address pay inequalities in the US. Last year, his administration rolled back an Obama-era policy aimed at eliminating the gender pay gap.

The ruling, which would have compelled large firms to report breakdowns to the US government of what they pay employees by race and gender, was denounced by the Trump administration as “enormously burdensome.”

An analysis of Mr Trump’s hiring policies by The Atlantic magazine in March claimed his White House has named twice as many men as women to appointed positions. It stated that just 33 per cent of Mr Trump’s appointees are women, compared to 47 per cent of the US national workforce.

The current incarnation of Mr Trump’s 16-strong cabinet includes only three women.

Turnberry’s six-page report into pay – a mandatory requirement under new equality legislation – also highlighted the difficulties Mr Trump’s firm has encountered in hiring staff, despite the fact it is one of the country’s most high profile golf resorts.

Trump Turnberry’s management concede that they have struggled to fulfil its recruitment goals due to the enclave’s “geographical isolation” on the South Ayrshire coastline, a problem that has led to it trying to hire staff directly from local schools and colleges.

The data in its gender pay report was based on payroll records from April last year. Neither Trump Turnberry nor the Trump Organisation responded to The Scotsman’s enquiries.

According to the most recent accounts filed with Companies House by Trump Turnberry’s parent company, SLC Turnberry, it employs 313 staff, with a total wage bill of £5.3m. It is currently advertising to fill 25 vacancies.

Mr Trump’s other Scottish resort, Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeenshire, employs just 93 people, including Sarah Malone, the executive-vice president.

Under the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017, employers with 250 or more employees must publish and report specific figures about their gender pay gap. Organisations with less than 250 employees can publish the data voluntarily but are not obliged to do so.

SNP accused of double-dealing over links with Trump from Scotland on Sunday – An investigation into the commercial relationship between the Scottish Government-owned Prestwick Airport and Donald Trump, at the time of writing a Republican US presidential candidate

THE TROUBLED Prestwick Airport, owned by the Scottish Government, has been involved in ­negotiations with Donald Trump in an effort to return it to profit – at the same time as senior SNP figures have been calling for the US presidential candidate to be banned from the UK, Scotland on Sunday can reveal.

The Scottish Government was last night accused of hypocrisy and urged to disclose the precise nature of its relationship with the controversial Republican frontrunner after a tranche of correspondence detailed Prestwick Airport’s extensive dealings with Trump.

Officials at the loss-making Glasgow Prestwick Airport and Trump’s executives have explored working together to “win” business and the “integration” of their operations.

The precise nature of Prestwick’s high-profile ties with the controversial US presidential candidate has long been unclear. It was described in a joint press release in November 2014 as an “official partnership” and a “strategic alliance.”

The airport now insists it has no “official partnership contract in place” with the magnate or his Turnberry resort and that he has merely offered a “show of support” for the beleaguered hub.

But a tranche of documents released to Scotland on Sunday show the airport has held unminuted discussions over “potential partnership opportunities” and disclosed business development targets with Trump Turnberry, which has not been required to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDA).

The relationship was announced in grand style two years ago when Trump touched down at Prestwick in his Boeing 757 jet. The airport charges him undisclosed fees for fuelling, airside parking, landing charges and hangar space for the aircraft and his Sikorsky S-76 helicopter.

Although there have been no further public announcements, the correspondence – released under Freedom of Information (FoI) legislation – details extensive private discussions.

FullSizeRender (2)

The airport said it “holds a presentation that was shared with Trump Turnberry in relation to business development targets.” However, it withheld it from the FoI release, claiming it would “prejudge our commercial interest”.

It added that “it has had dialogue from employees from Trump Turnberry resort to discuss potential partnership opportunities. There were no minutes taken of these discussions.”

In an email sent last March to Ralph Porciani, general manager at Trump Turnberry, Jules Matteoni, Prestwick’s manager of fire service, passenger services, transport and security, asked to meet Turnberry staff at “short notice” to “have a think about integration of your business and ours before the season starts”.

He referenced a meeting at Prestwick four days previously with Porciani, stating: “I trust you have confidence in the operation now.”

Last September, Matteoni wrote to Trump Turnberry’s sales director, Gillian McNeilly, concerning a commercial deal, details of which were redacted by Prestwick. He told her: “If we want to win this business then we should work together on pricing and have a package that is highly attractive.”

The airport was taken over by the government in 2003 for £1. It made losses of £4.1m last year, with loan financing from the government increasing from £4.5m in March 2014 to £10.8m 12 months later.

Former First Minister Alex Salmond and Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh MP were among those SNP politicians to call on Trump to be banned from the UK over his contentious remarks about Muslims, while Nicola Sturgeon stripped him of his Global Scot status.

Alex Johnstone, infrastructure and transport spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, said: “On the one hand SNP MPs want to ban Donald Trump from the UK, but on the other, the airport the Scottish Government owns appears to be going out its way to curry favour with him.

“It makes sense for an airport like Prestwick to work closely with local businesses like Turnberry. But the SNP has to stop being so hypocritical about the situation – it can’t have it both ways.”

He added: “People will find it very strange that Prestwick shares this information with Trump, while claiming there’s no official partnership in place. The Scottish Government should explain this arrangement as a matter of urgency.”


David Stewart, Scottish Labour’s transport spokesman, said: “The SNP clearly has some explaining to do here. Mr Trump has threatened to walk away from his businesses in Scotland yet Prestwick seems desperate to get together with Trump Turnberry. We need full disclosure of what is going on.”

Kirsten Sweeney, Prestwick’s communications manager, characterised the airport’s relationship with Turnberry as “long running” and one that would continue. Its link with Trump Turnberry, she said, was “mutually supportive”.

Asked why it had disclosed business development targets with Trump’s firm despite the fact there is “no legal contract between the two organisations,” she said: “When you enter into these discussions, there is an element of trust that has to be had between the organisations that are looking to build a partnership with each other. It’s the same process we have in many of our business development discussions with potential customers or partners.

“There would be a starting point where we’d share a certain level of information about how we’re looking to develop our business to find out if synergies are there, and if there are, then look at working together.”

“Trump Turnberry have not signed any NDA with us. We present some of our thoughts and analysis about potential customers as a matter of course when having these discussions, and we wouldn’t really get off on the best foot with an organisation if the first thing we did was ask them to sign an NDA before we had a conversation. They would come into play when we get down to actuals and figures.”

She added: “We have kept the Scottish Government across no more or no less any of these discussions than we would discussions with any other potential customer or partner, and no more or no less than any other organisation would do with its shareholders.”

George Sorial, executive vice president of the Trump Organisation, said its ties with Prestwick had “nothing to do with our relationship with the Scottish Government” and that it was “united” with Prestwick “in any efforts to restore the airport”.

Asked if an “official partnership” existed, as outlined in the joint press release, he explained: “I think people use the word partnership colloquially. It doesn’t necessarily connote a full-blown partnership in the sense of a legal business relationship, so I think as a matter of law, they are not our partner.”

On whether Trump’s companies would invest directly at Prestwick, he said although this wasn’t under consideration at present, “that’s not ruling out. If there was a proposal on the table that made sense, obviously we would evaluate it.”

FullSizeRender (1)

A spokesman for the Scottish Government agency, Transport Scotland, said: “Glasgow Prestwick Airport is being operated on a commercial basis and at arm’s length from the Scottish Government.

“The senior management team at the airport has been tasked with all aspects of taking the airport forward, including building on existing revenue streams and exploring new ones.”

WHEN the partnership was announced between Glasgow Prestwick Airport and the Trump Organisation, Trump vowed that it would help bolster the economic fortunes of the struggling airport with “hundreds” of private flights as well-heeled golfers jetted in to play the billionaire’s courses.

He said: “We are going to have planes coming in from New York and all over, high-level planes like Gulfstreams and Bombardiers.”

But an email from Iain Cochrane, Prestwick’s former CEO, indicates little has changed. In the message, sent last June to Gary Cox, head of aviation at Transport Scotland, about “recent Trump announcements”, he said: “We do not expect to see significant increases in associated corporate jet traffic until the hotel and course improvements are completed in spring 2016 when Trump will relaunch the resort with particular focus in the US.”

The emails, released under Freedom of Information legislation, also show that Cochrane and George Sorial, vice-president of the Trump Organisation, wrote separately to SNP MSP Chic Brodie, inviting him to support the relationship between the resort and the airport.

In his email to Brodie in August 2014, Cochrane said the airport was working with Trump’s team “to explore where their considerable influence may assist opportunities for mutual benefit” and suggested that he contribute to a press release announcing the tie-up.

He added: “It is important that we get as much good news and impact from the story even if at this stage the financial materiality is quite low.”

Other correspondence shows how executives at Prestwick have attended dinners as guests of Trump Turnberry, with airport officials requesting pictures of the course to “give some Turnberry flavour” to a meeting room named after Trump’s golf resort.

It also details how the airport and Trump’s firm have struck a deal for reduced accommodation rates at Trump Turnberry, despite the fact it is a 45-minute drive away.

In an email last June to Ralph Porciani, the resort’s general manager, and Gillian McNeilly, its sales director, Prestwick’s Jules Matteoni wrote: “Many thanks for taking the time to meet up yesterday to have a constructive discussion on pricing and secondly having the conviction to back up your proposal.

“As a list of hotels that we use for business, being honest, Turnberry was always last on the list based on price. Yesterday’s proposal places Turnberry in a favourable position and gives us food for thought in our placement of crews moving forward.”

Trump’s firm invited to ‘pitch’ for new airline at ailing Prestwick from The Scotsman – An investigation into how representatives from Trump Turnberry, owned by US president Donald Trump, were asked to pitch for new business at the state-owned Prestwick Airport.

Donald Trump’s flagship Scottish business was invited by Glasgow Prestwick Airport to lobby a prospective airline amid attempts to return to profit. Officials at Glasgow Prestwick Airport formed a “working party,” which included Trump Turnberry, tasked with visiting Scandinavia to bring in new business to the loss-making South Ayrshire hub.

Representatives from the golf course and hotel resort, which remains under the US president’s ultimate ownership, were asked to travel with airport and local authority staff to Denmark to “pitch” to the airline earlier this year. The Scottish Government was made aware of the collaboration.

The disclosure has sparked renewed criticism of the government over the hypocrisy surrounding Prestwick’s business relationship with Mr Trump.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been an avowed critic of the 71-year-old and his politics, stripping him of his Global Scot ambassador status after his contentious remarks about Muslims. As recently as August, she described the prospect of his coming to Britain on an official state as “unthinkable.”

In the meantime, officials at Prestwick, wholly owned by Scottish ministers, have sought out the help of Mr Trump’s most prestigious golf resort.

Patrick Harvie, co-convener of the Scottish Greens, said the billionaire’s “toxic brand” was doing “real damage” to Scotland’s reputation and said the revelation proved the current set-up, which sees Prestwick operate at arms-length from the government, was not working.

It comes amid reports ministers are preparing to sell the beleaguered airport, which is running at an operating loss of £8.7m a year, with the amount of taxpayers’ money shoring up the hub increasing by £9.6m last year to £30.9m.

Attracting new airlines is seen as a crucial step to securing a sustainable future for Prestwick and ultimately, enticing a buyer from the private sector. The airport currently counts Ryanair as its sole scheduled services operator.

Representatives from Prestwick met in April with a prospective new airline at Routes Europe, an aviation industry event held in Belfast. The company, whose identity has not been disclosed, informed Prestwick it had a spare aircraft that could be put to use in a new route.

Directors at Prestwick Aviation Holdings Limited, the airport’s holding company, discussed in June how Prestwick had “formed a working party” which included Trump Turnberry and South Ayrshire Council.

Referring to the airline as X, an extract from the meeting – passed to The Scotsman by a source familiar with Prestwick’s operations – details how the airport arranged a visit “where each stakeholder will pitch to X to support this new route. We believe this will give X the confidence required to launch direct services.”

The meeting with the airline took place in Copenhagen in July. However, Trump Turnberry said it did not attend the formal pitch, and received no payment for its work. The only new route secured by Prestwick in the past year has been Ryanair’s reinstated service to the Polish city of Rzeszow.

The source said: “There has been tentative interest in new routes at Prestwick in recent years but it has been an uphill battle to compete. There were talks with Flybe but the business case was not strong enough.”

Mr Harvie said: “Given Mr Trump’s appalling behaviour, he was rightly stripped of his Global Scot ambassador status and Scottish ministers have been at pains to distance themselves from a bigoted bully they previously cosied up to. It’s disappointing that his business is influencing a government-owned asset.

“It suggests operating at arms-length isn’t enough and I would hope Prestwick realises that Trump’s toxic brand does real damage to Scotland’s reputation.”

Since it was taken over by the government for £1 in November 2013, Prestwick’s executives have struggled to formulate a strategy to get out of the red. Its passenger total in the 12 months to September was 671,860, a fraction of its 2007/8 peak of 2.78 million. Its senior executive team has also been subject to major upheaval. Ron Smith, the chief executive officer, left last month after 15 months in charge. Mike Stewart, its business development officer, quit soon afterwards.

In the airport’s most recent annual accounts, Mr Smith wrote that a range of bodies, including Transport Scotland, VisitScotland, and local authorities, had been involved in developing “an attractive route development package.” There is, however, no mention of Trump Turnberry, the Trump Organisation or its Scottish subsidiaries.

It is not the first time Mr Trump and his companies have been expressed a keen interest in Prestwick’s passenger services since he bought Turnberry in April 2014. Seven months after the acquisition, which has yet to turn a profit for Mr Trump, he spoke out after Ryanair transferred several routes to Glasgow Airport.

He said he had a “long telephone conversation” with Michael O’Leary, its chief executive, which left him convinced the firm would play a major role in Prestwick’s future. “He needs incentives – as anyone does,” Mr Trump told The Scotsman at the time. “It’s down to the politicians to make that deal now.”

That same month, the airport and the Trump Organisation issued a joint press release announcing they had formed an “official partnership” and “strategic alliance.” The nature of the relationship was unclear until correspondence released under Freedom of Information legislation to Scotland on Sunday showed airport officials had held unminuted discussions over “potential partnership opportunities” and disclosed business development targets with Trump Turnberry.

Following the release of the documents, Prestwick contradicted the information in the press release, stressing it had no “official partnership contract in place” with Mr Trump. It added that at no time had it asked Mr Trump “to act as an advocate for the airport.”

Last night, Trump Turnberry explained it “works closely” with stakeholders such as Prestwick to bolster tourism in Ayrshire. A spokeswoman added: “For a recent pitch, Turnberry provided information on the golfing and accommodation opportunities available within the resort to the Prestwick team, to help position Ayrshire as an attractive golfing destination.”

A spokesman for the airport said: “We work closely with various organisations to share knowledge and experience to promote and grow tourism in Ayrshire. “Glasgow Prestwick Airport is an important asset for Scotland. We are focused on identifying new opportunities to bring new business to the airport and local economy in line with our strategic plan.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “In compliance with European Union state aid rules, Prestwick is being operated on a commercial basis and at arm’s length from the government. “The senior management team at the airport has been tasked with all aspects of taking the airport forward, including building on existing revenue streams.”

Trump’s golf links vulnerable to terror attacks and protests from Scotland on Sunday – An analysis of the security arrangements threats surrounding Donald Trump’s Scottish resorts.

President Donald Trump’s golf resorts in Scotland could be viewed as “soft targets” by terror groups intent on striking against his administration, counter-terrorism experts have told Scotland on Sunday.

The protection of Trump Turnberry and Trump International Golf Links will require substantial security upgrades and the pooling of resources by UK and US agencies to safeguard against potential threats, according to seasoned diplomatic security officials.

With a new course due to open later this year at Trump’s flagship resort in South Ayrshire, a vast security operation is already being planned, one which could intensify if the White House insists on including Scotland in the itinerary for Trump’s state visit.

Authorities here face the added difficulty of policing demonstrations at Trump’s venues over the coming months and years.

With global opposition to the Trump administration’s policies growing, organisers of peaceful protests in Scotland described the billionaire’s properties as a “gift” which would be used as a “platform for opposition”.

While protests against Trump have been an irregular occurrence ever since he purchased the Menie estate in 2005, his accession to the presidency looks set to intensify the scale and scope of the security arrangements at Turnberry and Trump International Golf Links.

The first major test will come this summer, when the former resort unveils its new King Robert the Bruce course. Three of Trump’s children – Eric, Donald Jr, and Ivanka – are directors of SLC Turnberry Ltd, the company behind the resort, and visited it last year alongside their father.

Under US statutes and longstanding protocols, the trio will be safeguarded by the Secret Service’s presidential protective division if they return for the ribbon-cutting ceremony; as executive vice-president of development and acquisitions at the Trump Organisation, and the figure responsible for overseeing the changes at Turnberry, Eric at least is all but certain to attend.

Leading counter-terrorism experts in the UK and the US said they expected security to be significantly upgraded at Trump’s Scottish concerns, with agencies on both sides of the Atlantic working together to assess threats.

Chris Phillips, former head of the UK’s National Counter Terrorism Security Office, said: “The Trump businesses are clearly at a higher risk and some extra security measures will be put into place. There are quite simple improvements that can be made, especially in the response to an incident and extra physical security measures.”

Phillips believes Trump’s Scottish golf courses constitute a “lower threat” compared with those businesses owned by the president in significant geopolitical locations, such as Trump Towers in Istanbul.

Others, however, believe their modest profile could make them more appealing to terror groups intent on sending a message to the Trump administration.

“The Trump branded empire spans the globe and most sites are soft targets, like hotels,” explained Fred Burton, a former deputy chief of counter-terrorism at the US Diplomatic Security Service. “Threat wise, it would be much easier to go after a soft target, in an area without robust security and intelligence.”

Chris Hagon, who served as the personal protection officer to both the Queen and Prince Philip during 11 years’ service with Scotland Yard’s Royalty and Diplomatic Protection Command, said: “Given that [Trump’s] name is on these buildings, they would be considered at a higher risk for target selection by terror groups opposed to the US and its policies.

“The likelihood of an attack is more complicated to calculate and would have to include a review of the deterrent value of security controls in place at these buildings as well as the capabilities of the terrorist actors themselves. But there would be motivation to attack his properties.”

Authorities in Scotland declined to discuss the planning in detail. Police Scotland said it does not discuss the detail of individual security arrangements for such visits, but Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins said: “Should President Trump or his immediate family visit Scotland we would liaise with UK and US officials to ensure the appropriate security arrangements are put in place.”

A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police said it “would not have any involvement” in any operation, but it is understood that planning will draw on previous high-profile events at Turnberry, such as the 1990 Nato summit which involved 700 officers from the former Strathclyde Police force as well as Ministry of Defence launches patrolling the Firth of Clyde.

In the event Trump himself visited, the Secret Service would take the lead and secure either Turnberry or Trump International Golf Links for the duration of his stay.

Opinion is divided on who will foot the bill for security upgrades to Trump’s properties in Scotland; Phillips, now managing director of the International Protect and Prepare Security Office, a counter-terrorism consultancy, believes it is one of many questions being asked in “unprecedented times”.

“Who pays and how it will be done will be interesting to say the least,” he said. “I personally think that the US will fund extra security, but don’t know for sure.”

Burton, however, believes the Trump Organisation and its Scottish subsidiaries will foot the bill, a view shared by Hagon, now managing partner of Incident Management Group, a Florida-based security consultancy.

“The responsibility for upgrading the security of these buildings will fall on the building owner, who may see it as essential to calm nervous guests,” he explained. “Most such properties were probably not designed or built with the idea of withstanding a terrorist attack in mind.”

Whatever the outlay, it is expected the Trump Organisation will enjoy a windfall at the expense of the US security services tasked with protecting the president and his children. During the election campaign, the Secret Service paid £2.17 million for its officers to fly on private aircraft owned by Trump’s corporation.

Although Trump himself now travels exclusively on Air Force One, the likes of Eric and Donald Jr will fly on Trump’s Boeing 757 and therefore will be able to levy similar charges whenever their security detail accompanies them abroad, further smudging the line between Trump’s politics and his business interests.

As well as potential terror threats, Trump’s Scottish properties also look set to be targeted by demonstrators opposed to his administration.

The next protest, planned for Saturday, is set to convene at the Scottish Conservatives’ central office in Edinburgh before marching on the US Consulate, but others are already planning to target Trump where he is most visible in Scotland.

Philip Larkin, a writer who helped arrange last week’s protest in Glasgow’s George Square against Trump and Prime Minister Theresa May, said the president’s golf resorts were an obvious focal point for those opposed to Trump and the “outdated system” he represents.

“Public opposition to Trump was already in motion and now with his anti-immigrant, racist policies, which quite frankly are a human rights violation, you can only expect to see more protests against Trump, and where better to make a stand than his Scottish-based businesses?” said Larkin.

“Having both Turnberry and the Aberdeenshire course on our doorstep is quite frankly a gift to the people of Scotland, giving us a valuable opportunity to use these venues as a platform for opposition and hit Trump where it hurts – his ego.”

He added: “When you look at how heavily Trump was irritated by the visual impact of the wind farms on his prized Scottish resorts, imagine how he’d feel about the visual impact of thousands of protesters.”

There are questions about the long-term impact of hostility to Trump on his courses, in particular Turnberry, one of world golf’s most prestigious locations and a four-time host of the Open Championship.

Contrary to recent reports, Turnberry remains on the R&A’s rota as a potential venue for the tournament, although it would not be eligible until 2022 at the earliest. Any decision is at least a few years away.

According to the veteran golf journalist, Bill Elliott, the R&A is “smart enough to play the long game” regarding Trump’s stewardship of Turnberry, especially given the furore surrounding men-only clubs. “The last thing they will want is another Open week of negative media scrutiny,” suggested Elliott, editor-at-large of Golf World magazine.

Like many in the game, Elliott feels Turnberry’s Ailsa course is “first class”. While that is thanks in large part to Trump’s investment, Elliott believes the resort is such an “iconic historic venue for golfers that most, if not all, will see Trump merely as the current leaseholder and someone whose influence will pass sooner rather than later.” In any case, he points out that the “overwhelming majority” of top professional golfers are “solidly in favour of right-of-centre politics”.

Much will depend, however, on Trump’s conduct as commander-in-chief. “The problem is that he embroiders his name all over everything and if the Trump brand is diminished or tarnished as a result of his presidency then there may well be a serious and negative effect,” he added. “For now, we just don’t know, although it is tempting to suspect the worst.”

Trump’s Scottish golf resorts faace US inquiry over suspect finances from Scotland on Sunday

A US political ethics watchdog has demanded the Department of Justice investigate the books of Donald Trump’s Scottish golfing resorts after flagging up “suspect” financial disclosures.

The American Democracy Legal Fund (ADLF) has highlighted “significant and widespread discrepancies” in the reported income of the Republican presidential candidate’s resorts at  Trump Turnberry in South Ayrshire and Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeenshire.

The organisation has now written to Raymond Hulser, chief of the public integrity section at the Department of Justice, as well as Walter Shaub, director of the US Office of Government Ethics, calling for an inquiry.

As reported by The Scotsman in January, there is a gulf between the figures reported by Trump to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) – an independent regulatory agency which oversees the financing of elections – and those reported to Companies House in the UK.

The Washington DC-based ADLF claims Trump has broken the Ethics in Government Act, a federal law introduced in the wake of the Watergate scandal. Under the legislation, presidential candidates are required to disclose their financial holdings and transactions.

Documents filed by Trump with the FEC last July claim his resort in Balmedie generated income of $4.4m (£3.3m), but accounts filed with Companies House show it made losses of £1.1m in the year to December 2014.

The liberal accountability group said “the numbers still do not add up”, adding that the “same discrepancies hold true” for Turnberry. Trump told the FEC its income was $20.4m (£15.5m), yet accounts for its parent company show a £3.6m loss.

In a four-page letter to investigators, the ADLF’s co-founder, Brad Woodhouse, said there were “significant, widespread discrepancies” in the income figures reported by Trump, describing it as a “violation” of the 1978 act. Woodhouse said: “The Department of Justice should investigate these discrepancies to ensure that the public is granted full disclosure of Mr Trump’s finances as a candidate for president of the US.”

Patrick Harvie, co-convenor of the Scottish Greens, said: “It’s welcome that questions are being raised in the States about discrepancies in Trump’s Scottish affairs, and I’d encourage the relevant authorities here to co-operate with any inquiry.

“Scottish communities have been dumped on by Trump, with governments and public bodies taken for a ride. The more scrutiny he receives the better, as this deluded individual’s bid for power continues to falter.”

George Sorial, executive vice president of the Trump Organisation, referred Scotland on Sunday’s inquiry to the Trump campaign, but no-one responded.


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: