Blogs

You’ve Been Trumped! Director Anthony Baxter speaks about his new documentary

Anthony Baxter
Trump 300x225 You’ve Been Trumped! Director Anthony Baxter speaks about his new documentary

(BBC)

‘We’ve saved the dunes, and from an environmental stand point it’s a much better situation than it was before we bought the site,’ claimed Donald Trump, hair blowing in the stiff northerly breeze at a news conference in 2010, on the sand dunes of the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

The billionaire was busy announcing detailed plans to build a luxury golf resort on one of Europe’s last remaining coastal wilderness areas: a rare and shifting series of sand dunes north of Aberdeen. He had been given permission to do so, by Scotland’s Government led by Alex Salmond.

What was a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) was now to be turned over for an enormous development for wealthy golfers consisting of a skyscraper hotel, 1,500 houses and hundreds of golf villas. Six thousand jobs were promised. And now Mr Trump was explaining how he was bolting down the dunes with marram grass, so they would not move and shift in the unforgiving Scottish wind.

After 15 years of working as a journalist for the BBC, ITN and other broadcasters, I moved from London to my late mother’s home town in Montrose, Angus – 50 miles south of the land earmarked for Mr Trump’s golf resort. One of my first documentaries was for BBC Radio 4’s Face the Facts about the destruction of our town’s once beautiful sand dunes, due to deep water dredging of the town’s port, and the local authority’s failure to do anything about it. That was how I became interested in the rare dunes further up the coast that had been purchased by Mr Trump. I was astonished to read in Aberdeen’s newspapers the Trump course would ‘put Scotland on the map for golf’ – despite the fact the country is the birthplace of golf, and stuffed full of historic courses, (and needs a new one about as much as Seattle needs another branch of Starbucks).

Aberdeen’s powerful Press and Journal and Evening Express newspapers apparently failed to question the environmental impact of Mr Trump’s development. But my own journalistic instinct was overpowering, and I felt a desire to get to the truth. Denied funding by executives in Scotland and elsewhere, I was left with no option – I remortgaged my home.

I began work, by speaking with the local residents and filming the tycoon’s visit to Aberdeenshire in 2010. Mr Trump had publicly said local resident and farmer Michael Forbes lived like ‘a pig’ and slated his home as a ‘slum.’ But Aberdeen’s newspapers had more pressing questions for the billionaire. ‘Is this turning out better than you’d imagined?’ ‘It’s better than I could have hoped in my wildest dreams,’ replied Mr Trump. And later on the dunes, ‘Is my hair OK?  Give me a mirror.’ The words ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ were never recorded on my camera’s microphone that day. This was clearly a man used to getting his way. And it appeared to me, Mr Trump was determined to flatten anything standing in his path.

Shortly after the bulldozers moved in to destroy the Menie Estate dunes, we discovered Mr Trump’s workers had cut off the water supply to 86-year-old Molly Forbes – Michael’s elderly mother – for nearly a week, and so my Producer Richard Phinney and I went to interview Mr Trump’s chief greenkeeper who also doubled as head of building works.

After the interview, Richard and I were both suddenly arrested on the property of another local resident – Susan Munro. We were then driven miles to Aberdeen, banged up in separate prison cells for several hours and stripped of our possessions. DNA, fingerprints and photos were all taken and camera equipment and footage impounded. We were both charged with ‘a breach of the peace’ a criminal offence which you can go to jail for in Scotland.

The National Union of Journalists was furious and called our arrest ‘a blatant example of police interference stopping bona fide journalists from doing their job.’ The criminal charges were eventually thrown out by the Crown Office. But my arrest was a turning point, in what had become an extraordinary journey. I was now unwittingly part of a deeply disturbing and troubling story. And what had begun as an exercise to purely document what was happening, had now become a feature film – and I was in it.

The broadcast of You’ve Been Trumped on BBC Two this Sunday is a landmark event for the families on the Menie Estate.  Donald Trump has called You’ve Been Trumped ‘a failure’ and the local residents featured in the film have been branded ‘a national embarrassment for Scotland’. But they have inspired sold out cinema audiences around the world with their extraordinary dignity, and determination to stand up for Scotland’s environment and our planet. These Local Heroes are not impressed or blinded by celebrity, money or power. To them, (and in the immortal words of resident Susan Munro in the film), Donald Trump is just a man with “a bit of a name” and “a few pounds they reckon in his pocket”.

‘You’ve Been Trumped’ will be aired on Sunday 21st October at 10pm on BBC Two


Tagged in: , , , , , ,
  • http://www.facebook.com/barbara.eacott Barbara Rudnitzky Eacott

    The film on Sunday night made me so angry I went to bed saying How can he do this? Why was he allowed to do this? Alex Salmond was supposed to stand up for Scotland not sell his soul for mythical dollars, Employ local people? What does DT call local? Non-Americans? Where is the benefit to anyone other than Trump, though it looks like it’s going to be an environmentally ruinous failure. What a disgusting,bullying wee shite he is.

  • Simon

    What shocked me was not the behaviour of Trump, the Police, nor the
    local authority and wider Government, but rather the fact that so much
    of the lawbreaking was caught on camera. To my mind, the policemen who
    assaulted the film director should be arrested and charged. The security
    man who threatened the self-same director should at the very least be
    warned. The illegal actions of the digger drivers, (who quite brazenly
    broke all planning laws by deliberately destroying power lines, cutting
    off water supplies and building a fortress of soil around one resident’s
    house), should bring swift prosecution upon their own heads.. and Trump
    should be indicted, arrested and charged for promulgating all of these
    actions and also for threatening behaviour, when he was caught on camera
    telling one of his flunkies that they should “get rid of that house”,
    to which the flunky replied: “That could cause a stir”, to which Trump
    replied: “I don’t care”. The man comes over as an out-and-out gangster,
    an aggressive threatening bully, who uses tactics of intimidation and
    force to push through his own plans and to ride roughshod over
    residents, who he says “live like pigs”.

    The politicians should hang their heads in shame.. and as for the
    Police? Just another example of many, that they operate a
    “postcode/class lottery” as to how they deal with citizens’ complaints
    and that when they believe that “the camera is off”, they have no
    compunction about breaking the law themselves, using violence and
    intimidation. Shame on the lot of them and shame on us for letting it
    happen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bjrobson Brenda Robson

    I too live in Aberdeen but I totally disagree with the way Trump has gone about this project. It’s not about whether 85-90% of locals are for it, it is about the way Donald Trump wheeled, dealed and bullied his way across the North East of Scotland. The man is a hypocrite and a slime-bag. He obviously has no respect for the locals or the land. All he cares about is building his luxury golf course. Where is your pride if you are willing to grovel at the feet of despicable Trump for the sake of change? Are you willing to support this bully who honestly does not give a toss about Aberdeen or its people! Change is good but not if it is done in such a ruthless and arrogant way.

  • Ster

    This was the only dune of its kind left in the world and was designated a site of special interest for a reason, there was much biodiversity that existed for its uniqueness. Trump bought and more than likely bribed his way to ruining our beautiful Scottish landscape and your views are not backed up with any accurate references to the figures you quote. As for your complete lack of understanding for the SSI by quoting that there are miles and miles of dunes, this exposes your utter lack of knowledge on the subject and you’d be better off keeping that opinion to yourself.

  • alpha omega

    After watching this documentary i was left with such a feeling of disgust with trump but mostly with the government that allowed this “monster” to destroy such a beautifull natural area, and community, he was given our police force to use as is own private mafia. i am not scotish but this could happen anywhere. if we try to build anything on land we own we are swamped by red tape and government officals, something must be done about this, it cannot be let go of or forgotten. slowly our british rights which we have all fought for are being taken away piece by piece. There seems to be no law when it comes to these money men that SIT ABOVE GOVERNMENTS.

  • Jim Brooks

    What a moving documentary. We are lucky that there are still investigative journalists like Anthony Baxter and his colleagues on ‘Youv’e been trumped’; They are the real heroes, because it takes informed courage to ask difficult questions of ruthless, wealthy people and their servants. As a UK citizen I found it difficult to watch the two policemen harassing then arresting Mr Baxter and his colleague; you could see them working out the conflict between their own values and the instructions that they had just been given over the radio. As for trump himself, we all knew that he was financially in credit, but we now know that morally he’s running a deficit.

  • josh dunne

    As an English man I’ve always respected the Scots pride in themselves. This films shows that those Scots in power have swallowed this pride in the face of the all conquering dollar. I salute Michael Forbes for his pride in himself and hope he and the other residents get the justice they deserve.

  • http://twitter.com/kintyrebrian BRIAN HONE

    I do not have any objection to new golf courses per se although as previously noted we’re not short of courses in Scotland.However the disgraceful conduct of Trump,the Scottish Government and the Grampian Police makes me ashamed of my fellow countrymen Contrast and compare the situation in Kintyre where a new course,Machrihanish Dunes,was built by an American developer.They adhered strictly,at considerable cost and time,to the SSI requirements.They also refurbished the derelect Ugadale Hotel and the Royal Hotel in Campbeltown using local labour and staff.At all times they consulted and worked with the local community and they are a shining example to Mr Trump and Mr Salmond of how business should be conducted. Kintyrebrian

  • MaryFlannery

    As an American married to a Welshman I can’t express what I’m feeling after reading about this documentary and watching the preview. It brings home my biggest fear right now: that Trump’s friend, Mitt Romney, might become President of the US. Can you imagine men such as these leading the US? I’m so glad Trump’s greed and gall have been exposed.


Most viewed

Read

N/A

Property search
Browse by area

Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter