Page last updated at 09:14 GMT, Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Trump praises 'amazing' Salmond

Donald Trump
Mr Trump's plans were turned down by Aberdeenshire Council

The American tycoon Donald Trump has called First Minister Alex Salmond "an amazing man".

He said ministers did Scotland a "great service" in calling in his application for an Aberdeenshire golf resort after it was rejected by a council committee.

Mr Trump told BBC Scotland that he was "honoured" by the parliamentary inquiry into the affair, as it may lead to improvements in the planning process.

Meanwhile, Mr Salmond appeared again at the Holyrood probe into the 1bn plans.

The inquiry has been investigating the handling of the proposals, which were called in by ministers after being rejected by Aberdeenshire Council's infrastructure committee.

Speaking exclusively to BBC Scotland, Mr Trump referred to that decision as "a little road block".

He said: "I hardly know Alex Salmond, but what I know is that he's an amazing man.

Maybe he (Alex Salmond) won't want this project... although it would be hard to believe when 93% of the local community voted for it in the local paper
Donald Trump

"He's a person who believes strongly in Scotland and he wants economic development in Scotland.

"Alex Salmond and I have virtually never even talked about this job but I know for a fact that he - and anyone else who's representing Scotland, unless they're the enemy - wants billions of pounds to come into Aberdeenshire and Scotland."

He said he had "great respect" for Mr Salmond and that they only talked about Scotland when they met last year.

"Maybe he won't want this project - it's possible - although it would be hard to believe when 93% of the local community voted for it in the local paper," he added.

But Mr Trump said he had been given no assurances by the first minister about the proposed golf development.

Meanwhile, Mr Salmond was questioned for a second time by Holyrood's local government committee, which is looking into the handling of the Trump plans.

Alex Salmond

He stated that he had never spoken publicly or privately about the merits of the application as first minister.

Mr Salmond added that he had expressed support for the golf course plans - with some reservations - at a hustings during the Holyrood election campaign, before he was an MSP or a minister.

The committee also again question Finance Secretary John Swinney.

He will decide if the plans for the Menie Estate get the go-ahead.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Nicol Stephen has been the most vocal critic over the government's involvement with the plans, claiming its handling of them "smelled of sleaze".

Mr Salmond is excluded from the decision-making process because Mr Trump's plans are in his Gordon seat, but said he had done nothing wrong in meeting with all sides on the issue in his role as a constituency MSP.

Scotland's top civil servant, Sir John Elvidge, has also ruled that all civil servants involved in the planning application had obeyed the rules.


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