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Saturday 28 May 2016

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Alex Salmond an embarrassment to Scotland, Donald Trump says

Published 14/01/2016

Donald Trump accused Alex Salmond of destroying sections of Scotland's landscape with wind turbines
Donald Trump accused Alex Salmond of destroying sections of Scotland's landscape with wind turbines

Donald Trump has declared Alex Salmond "an embarrassment to Scotland" after comments by the MP on his radio show fuelled a long-running spat.

Mr Salmond suggested the US billionaire had overstated his investment in Aberdeenshire and that his ownership of the prestigious Turnberry golf resort could actually lose the country money.

The former SNP leader and first minister was responding to a question during the first broadcast of his new phone-in radio show on the LBC network.

Republican presidential candidate Mr Trump responded by saying Turnberry had suffered from under-investment until he took the reins and accused Mr Salmond of destroying sections of Scotland's landscape with wind turbines.

He also recalled the Scottish Government's "disgraceful" decision to release Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi on humane grounds in 2009.

Mr Trump said in a statement: " Megrahi and others were laughing out loud at what a stupid man Alex Salmond is.

"Why would a terrorist that blew up an airliner with so many lives lost be released under any circumstances? Alex Salmond is an embarrassment to Scotland."

On his business interests, Mr Trump said: " For a long period of time Turnberry, while always successful, was not properly reinvigorated with the massive amounts of capital necessary.

"I am investing a minimum of £200 million initially including rebuilding and renovating the great Ailsa course, a new second course and the total renovation of the magnificent Turnberry hotel which is already under construction.

"In future years, far more money will be invested. Prior to my investment in Turnberry, very little necessary capital was spent.

"When completed, Turnberry will go to the top of the list of world's greatest resorts and the Ailsa course will be brought to the highest standards of golf as per the request of the R&A (Royal & Ancient)."

The property developer established the Trump International Golf Links at the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire and had the support of Scottish ministers before a fall-out over a proposed offshore wind farm project which he claims will spoil the view from the resort.

He said future investment at Menie and Turnberry are at risk if he is banned from the UK following controversial comments about Muslims he made on the campaign circuit.

Mr Salmond told the LBC caller: " I've kind of changed my mind about Donald Trump and there's two reasons for that.

"Having secured his development, which was controversial, he then objects to other developments, like the offshore wind demonstrator - which would be generating some badly-needed jobs in the north-east of Scotland.

"Secondly, his comments about banning all Muslims from America. If anybody else was saying that sort of thing, if it was a preacher or something, he'd be banned from the UK for that sort of racist stuff."

On Turnberry, Mr Salmond said: "As long as Donald Trump owns Turnberry I think it's impossible, actually, for the Royal and Ancient to take the Open there. And every time they don't take the Open to Turnberry, that costs the Scottish economy, and Turnberry, a hundred million pounds."

Responding to the businessman's latest comments, Mr Salmond said: "The problem for Mr Trump lies not with his golf courses, but with him. The golf courses are excellent. 'The Donald' isn't.

"Unfortunately, his claims of the level of future investment in Scotland bear no resemblance to the reality of the last eight years.

"His ownership of Turnburry places it effectively out of The Open Championship circuit at a cost of £100 million to the Scottish economy.

"His legal objections to wind demonstrators in Aberdeen have thus far deprived the north-east of Scotland of a vital £200 million diversification into offshore wind technology at a time of great difficulty in oil and gas."

Mr Salmond also claimed Mr Trump was "out of date" with his remarks about the Lockerbie bomber.

He said: "Megrahi's release was in 2009. Since then, the SNP has won an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament and 56 seats out of 59 in a UK general election.

"On Megrahi, Trump is like a cracked gramophone record playing in a digital age."

Inviting the presidential hopeful to talk to him directly, Mr Salmond added: "I suggest instead Mr Trump calls into LBC next Wednesday at 1600 (GMT), where he can ask me anything he likes. The number is +44 (0)345 60 60 973.

"If he has a beef I'll be happy to take his call. We'll see if debating here is as easy as debating over there."

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