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Trump International golf resort loses complaint against The Scotsman



Donald Trump‘s golf resort in Aberdeenshire has lost a complaint to the UK’s biggest press regulator against The Scotsman over two articles about its food hygiene standards.

Trump International Golf Club Scotland Limited, for which Trump’s sons Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump are listed as directors on Companies House, claimed the article was inaccurate because it “created a false narrative that the resort was currently operating an unsafe environment for consumers and that the problems were ongoing”.

The first article, published on 16 September last year, reported that the Trump International Golf Links resort in Scotland failed to “achieve a pass grade under a national food hygiene scheme” and had been served an “improvement notice” the previous year.

Some of the issues reportedly included “[d]irty chopping boards and appliances, food handlers failing to wash their hands properly, and sausage meat found to be nearly three months out of date”.

The second article was a leader column headlined “Make Trump resort restaurant great again” and noted of the former US president that it was “rather ironic that the self-confessed germophobe’s business should have been ordered to make improvements by environmental health officials over cleanliness and food safety issues”.

The business argued it had not “failed” anything and that it had addressed the necessary improvements asked for by the council, later receiving a “pass” certificate in March 2023 which was not mentioned in the article.

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The Scotsman had got information from the Aberdeenshire Council website, which it turned out had not been updated properly to include the latest inspection. This information was wrongly confirmed before publication by the council, which has since apologised to the newspaper. The Scotsman published a correction to this effect after the complaint came in.

Trump International also said it was inaccurate for the print article to use a photo of MacLeod House, the hotel at the Trump International golf resort, because it was the golf clubhouse and not the hotel that had been inspected. It also claimed it had not been contacted for comment although the publication could show a reporter had contacted an email address that had previously received a response.

What IPSO said about the Trump International complaint

The complaints committee of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), the UK’s biggest press regulator, said the article was entitled to characterise the resort as having “failed” because it explained why it had not met the requirements for a “pass” status.

It also noted all the ways the publication had tried to verify the information: “it had made an FOI request regarding the inspection; checked the council’s website; contacted the council to verify whether the information on its website was correct in regard to the inspection status; and had also attempted to contact the complainant with several questions… None of these steps provided information which indicated that the claim was inaccurate.”

It said The Scotsman had therefore taken sufficient care over the accuracy of the information.

IPSO said it was not significantly inaccurate for the article to refer to the location in question as the hotel or illustrate the article with a photo of the hotel “as the resort was comprised of the hotel and golf clubhouse”.

IPSO did say the article required correction, however, because the inaccuracy about the most recent food hygiene status was “significant given it related to the hygiene standards of a resort which would likely have an impact on its custom and reputation”.

But it said the newspaper had published a correction sufficiently promptly after receiving the complaint and verifying the new information with the council.

Trump International had demanded an apology, but IPSO said this was not necessary: “The Committee were of the view that the publication had taken care over the accuracy of the article, had corrected the error promptly and prominently, and had included a substantial part of a statement supplied by the complainant.”

Trump International complained to IPSO’s independent complaints reviewer about the process followed by the regulator in handling its complaint, but the reviewer “decided that the process was not flawed and did not uphold the request for review”.

Read the full IPSO ruling here.

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