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Donald Trump ‘hoodwinked’ Scotland with his promise of a £1billion golf resort



DONALD Trump “hoodwinked” Scotland into letting him build a golf course, his former mouthpiece claims.

Trump battled to get the green light to build a luxury resort in Menie, Aberdeenshire.


Donald Trump on his Aberdeenshire golf course in 2011, the year before it openedCredit: Reuters
Donald Trump lands at Aberdeen Airport last year


Donald Trump lands at Aberdeen Airport last yearCredit: Getty
Trump's former project director Neil Hobday claims Scotland was "hoodwinked" by his old boss


Trump’s former project director Neil Hobday claims Scotland was “hoodwinked” by his old bossCredit: Newsline Press Agency

He convinced the Scottish Government and then First Minister Alex Salmond to back him with promises of a huge economic windfall for the country.

But his ex-project director Neil Hobday reckons he had no intention of delivering.

He said: “He was willing to fight the environmental battle and create this impression that this was a billion dollar project, and Scotland absolutely needed it.

“But I think he never really had the money or the intention of finishing it. 

“I feel very hoodwinked and ashamed that I fell for it and Scotland fell for it.

“The government, Salmond, we all fell for it. He was never going to do it.”

Hobdday first sold the idea of building the course to Trump and was by his side hitting back at critics as they fought to make it a reality.

In a shock admission to the BBC’s Trumped podcast he revealed he walked when he discovered Trump would not follow through with his vows.

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And he insisted the loaded businessman didn’t intend to build a £1billion project.

Hobday added: “ It was awful. Absolutely awful that realisation.  He wanted the golf course and that was it.”

Trump first announced back in 2006 that he was going to build the “greatest golf course in the world” on the Menie Estate.

Alongside it would be a five-star hotel and nearly 1,000 holiday homes. He crowed it could replace the oil industry and would create 2,000 jobs.

Critics warned it would decimate historic, protected sand dunes and local councillors rejected the plans.

But in an unprecedented move the Scottish Government called in the application and gave it the go-ahead after a public inquiry. It finally opened in 2012.

Twelve years on it has reported losses of more than £12million and only a fraction of the promised £1billion has been spent. 

The Trump Organisation says it has splashed out around £100million on the development.

But the latest accounts value it at £33.2million and reveal it has 81 employees.

Work only started on the second course last year and the 500-bedroom hotel has never been built. None of the holiday homes have been built either.

Last year it emerged that he might never get round to building the properties.

Former First Minister Alex Salmond said: “It’s easy to be wise after the event.

“The thing I couldn’t work out until very recently was why would you say you were going to do something on such a grand scale and not do it?”

Paul Cheshire, from the London School of Economics, claims the figures never added up.

He said: “I think the government were almost culpable. 

“They took the projections that had been delivered by the Trump Organisation at face value. 

“It was blindingly obvious there was a huge over-estimate. 

“Any critical assessment would have come to the conclusion that it was a fabrication, that it was a bluff. It was part of a blustering argument to get planning permission.”

Hobday said he resigned as project director in 2010. But the Trump Organisation claimed he was fired from his post

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A Trump spokesman added: “There are very few, if any, investors in the sport that have done more for Scottish golf in the past decade than Trump.

“In spite of the many global economic challenges, where other investors walked away – and despite spiteful opposition, the Trump Organization has remained steadfast in its commitment and delivered on its promise to build one of the greatest modern links golf courses of all time in Aberdeen.”

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