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Salmond's Trump golf resort action 'cavalier'

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Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond was “cavalier” and showed “exceptionally poor judgement” when he met representatives of Donald Trump after the American entrepreneur’s application for a golf development had been controversially rejected by Aberdeenshire Council .

A report on the affair by the Scottish Parliament’s local government and communities committee said Mr Salmond had been “extremely unwise” to facilitate a meeting between Mr Trump’s representatives and the Scottish government’s chief planner.

Mr Trump’s application was rejected by Aberdeenshire’s infrastructure service committee in December on the casting vote of its then chair Martin Ford (Lib Dem). The full council, which wanted the local investment Mr Trump had promised, later denounced the decision - though it could not legally revoke it - and sacked Mr Ford.

Meanwhile, the government called in the application so that it could decide the matter itself.

The committee found: “Aberdeenshire Council followed its own procedures and was entitled to follow the course of action it did.”

It said call-in after a rejection laid the Scottish government open to legal challenge since it carried the implication that the government had decided to accept the application, which conflicted with its quasi-judicial role in planning.

Aberdeenshire’s chief executive Alan Campbell said the report “confirms the validity of the council’s processes”.

Mr Ford said he was “very pleased the committee has accepted that our handling of this was absolutely proper and that there were valid grounds for our refusal of planning permission”.

The Royal Town Planning Institute Scotland said: “We are pleased the report recognises the importance and integrity of the planning system and those who operate it.”

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