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by Niall Christie
THE SNP was challenged today to launch an urgent investigation into Donald Trump’s financial dealings and kick his “toxic brand out of Scotland.”
On the day the businessman left the White House, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was urged to begin seeking an unexplained wealth order (UWO) regarding Mr Trump’s purchase of Ayrshire’s Turnberry golf resort in 2014.
Despite the initial purchase and refurbishment costing Mr Trump over £200 million, Turnberry posted its sixth consecutive year of losses in 2020 with a deficit of £2.3m.
Calls for Mr Trump’s finances to be investigated were first made by campaign group Avaaz in April 2019, but Ms Sturgeon has previously claimed that any application for such an order is a decision for the Crown Office.
But a new paper, put together by Aidan O’Neill QC and advocate David Welsh and published by Avaaz this week, says that the government alone is responsible for the decision to apply for one of the so-called McMafia orders.
At First Minister’s Questions (FMQs) today, the Scottish Greens urged the First Minister to “stop hiding behind officials” and begin a UWO.
Party co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “One of the biggest proponents globally of dangerous misinformation – from Covid, to climate and more – has been kicked off Twitter and Facebook, today is being kicked out of the White House, and it’s time we kicked his toxic brand out of Scotland too.
“From today, Donald Trump will no longer be the US President, and his business activities are under criminal investigation in the US. Yet his purchases in Scotland have still not been investigated, despite serious concerns about how they were funded.
“This advice was sent to the First Minister at the weekend. It’s long past time the Scottish government demonstrated that Scotland cannot be a country where anyone with the money can buy whatever land and property they want, no questions asked.”
The SNP leader said that she had only seen reports of the legal advice and offered the Green co-leader a full response once she’d read it in detail, adding that the government has its own sources of legal opinion.
She said: “I’m sure many of us across the chamber and across Scotland will be very happy to say ‘cheerio’ to Donald Trump today.
“‘Don’t haste ye back’ may be the perfect rejoinder to him.”
But Avaaz legal director Nick Flynn urged her to go further, saying: “With everything Trump has done in trying to steal the election, under investigation for fraud in the states, it is time for Nicola Sturgeon to step in and clear up confusion over Turnberry.”
Campaigners have backed the Greens’ calls, saying that there is more than enough evidence to launch an inquiry into the dealing of the former president — who they urged to respect “the views of those in Scotland.”
The Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie added: “Trump's business in Scotland has never generated the number of jobs promised, but even if it had there is no reason to ignore the damage to Scotland's international reputation through being associated with this toxic brand.
“The workers at Turnberry and Menie are not responsible for his actions though, and they should be assured that holding him to account would not threaten their livelihoods.”
Stand Up to Racism co-convener Weyman Bennett said: “I believe that Donald Trump is a racist criminal and needs to be brought to justice.
“His activities in terms of attempting a coup should at least mean he shouldn’t be allowed in and a full investigation into his shady dealings launched.
“I think the majority of people believe in democracy, anti-racism, trade unionism and anti-sexism.
“There’s been a consistent opposition in Scotland for him to come there and it’s about time he respected the views of those in Scotland.”
Trump International did not respond to a request for comment.
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