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Trump has journalists arrested at his Scottish golf course site

The arrest of two journalists carries important implications for press freedom, says Britain’s Nation Union of Journalists.

Donald Trump gestures whilst standing on the sand dunes on Menie Estate, the site of his new golf course.
Donald Trump gestures whilst standing on the sand dunes on Menie Estate, the site of his new golf course.

THE ARREST OF two journalists filming an investigative documentary piece into complaints about building works at Donald Trump’s Scottish golf resort were unjustified, according to the National Union of Journalists.

Following complaints by the Trump organisation, Anthony Baxter and Richard Phinney – two award-winning journalists who have worked for the BBC and Channel 4 News – were arrested.

The journalists were arrested for breach of the peace, detained for four hours, and had their DNA, photographs and fingerprints taken by Grampian police. They say that their camera equipment was held by police for five days, which prevented them from filming.

The men had been investigating claims that contractors working for Trump accidentally cut off the water supply to several local residents (including his fiercest critic Michael Forbes) for several days, reports The Guardian.

The Trump organisation had called Grampian police to say that the men had entered its offices at the site and filmed documents without permission.

Baxter and Phinney both strongly deny the accusations, saying that they had full permission to enter the premises and conduct interviews with staff – and they have the footage to prove it.

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Paul Holleran, the NUJ’s regional organiser in Scotland, said the arrests were unjustified and had important implications for press freedom. The union has sent a formal letter of complaint to Grampian police. Holleran said:

This is a blatant example of police interference aimed at stopping bona fide journalists from doing their job.  Their footage shows they were asking very pertinent questions in a mannerly fashion as befits professional journalists.

I believe this is a breach of human rights, and we are taking legal advice. I think this must be one of the first cases in this country of journalists being arrested for just carrying out interviews to establish the truth and hold people to account.

George Sorial, Trump’s senior representative, insisted the two men “burst” unannounced into Menie House, Trump’s home at the resort, and were disruptive.

He added:

I think it’s entirely appropriate to call the police. We have a very good relationship with all the media. We genuinely have an open-door policy [but] it’s not acceptable to have two people burst into an office unannounced.

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