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Trump meeting showed Salmond’s ‘poor judgment’

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

The case has raised issues over political intervention in the planning process because ministers ‘called in’ the application, so they could take the decision, though Aberdeenshire had already ruled on it.

A report by the Scottish Parliament’s local government and communities committee noted that major applications would normally be called in only before a council decision.

This call-in left ministers open to legal challenge since it implied they had decided to support the application, it said.

The committee found it “difficult to accept that there was no connection between the first minister facilitating a hastily arranged meeting for the Trump Organisation with the chief planner and the ministerial call-in less than an hour later”.

It said Aberdeenshire had adequately followed its own procedures.

Mr Trump’s application had been rejected by Aberdeenshire’s infrastructure service committee in December on the casting vote of its then chair Martin Ford (Lib Dem).

The council had hoped it would lead to major investment and later sacked Cllr Ford.

Cllr Ford said: “I’m very pleased they have accepted that our handling of this was absolutely proper.”

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