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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 March 2008, 18:32 GMT
Trump inquiry committee findings
First Minister Alex Salmond's involvement in the Donald Trump golf resort application was "cavalier" and showed "exceptionally poor judgement", according to the Scottish Parliament inquiry into the affair.

However, SNP members of Holyrood's local government committee, which held the investigation, dissented from the findings and said they had shown no wrongdoing on Mr Salmond's part.

Here is a summary of the inquiry's main findings:

  • The decision making process of Aberdeenshire Council was appropriate and valid, and that the decision of its infrastructure committee to reject the application, albeit highly controversial, was competent.
  • The decision to call in the application after the decision of Aberdeenshire Council, but before the issue of the decision letter, was competent, albeit unprecedented.
  • The decision to call-in the application after being rejected by the planning authority was unprecedented.
  • The committee expressed surprise the decision was taken on the back of two short telephone conversations with Scotland's chief planner Jim Mackinnon, the latter being the one in which this course of action was recommended to him.
  • The Scottish Government quite properly attaches great importance to economic development and the Trump proposal was clearly of interest.
  • It was not necessary for the application to be called in to maintain the integrity of the planning system.
  • Neither the position of the planning system being brought into disrepute, nor the issues of costs against Aberdeenshire Council, featured at all in an explanation given by Finance Secretary John Swinney, despite such weight being attached by Mr Salmond and Mr Mackinnon.
  • It was highly unlikely an appeal by the Trump team would have raised any real issue as to costs for Aberdeenshire Council.
  • The true purpose of the Trump Organisation's meetings with Mr Salmond and Mr Mackinnon was not to seek advice about legal process, but to emphasise the Trump Organisation's position after the plans were rejected by the council.
  • The committee was very concerned that Mr Swinney did not obtain written legal or official advice before making a decision on the call-in.
  • Mr Swinney's acknowledgement that the application was properly considered by Aberdeenshire Council is the clearest indication that the issue at stake for ministers was not the integrity of the planning system.
  • The committee accepted Mr Salmond's right to meet with anyone about an issue in his Gordon constituency, but was not obliged to meet Trump representatives under the MSP code of conduct.
  • It was extremely unwise of the first minister to directly facilitate a meeting between Trump representatives and the chief planner.
  • Mr Salmond had no particular expertise in relation to planning law or processes on which he could provide advice or guidance to the Trump Organisation.
  • The first minister was cavalier in his actions and displayed, at best, exceptionally poor judgement and a worrying lack of awareness about the consequence of his actions
  • .


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