Dundas & Wilson
Dundas & Wilson is a UK law firm with offices in London, Edinburgh and Glasgow. It describes itself as having "particular expertise within 4 key sectors - Energy & Utilities, Financial Services, Real Estate and Technology."
Controversy over client, Donald Trump
The Sunday Times reported in October 2009 that Dundas & Wilson was working on behalf of property tycoon Donald Trump in his bid to build a controversial golf course in Aberdeenshire. The newspaper reported that documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, showed that Aberdeenshire Council was 'too close' to Trump's people over its handling of the planning process, including the Council's use of Compulsory Purchase Orders.
The Sunday Times reported:
- Aberdeenshire council has been accused of being “too close” to Donald Trump after a senior official suggested working with the tycoon to handle an expected backlash against plans to evict homeowners standing in the way of his £1 billion golf resort. Documents obtained under freedom of information laws show that Dr Christine Gore, the council’s senior planning officer, told Trump’s lawyers that “close liaison” would be needed to “manage” any negative publicity.
- The move came after Trump notified the council in February this year of his intention to seek compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) to buy four properties on or near his 2,000-acre Menie estate. Details of the tycoon’s plan to extend his development did not become public until May. In Gore’s letter, dated April 7, she writes: “In terms of public relations and management of the inevitable media interest, I would request that we be given at least a week’s notice of your intended submission date. Thereafter, close liaison will be required . . . in order that we can have a managed approach to what is inevitably going to be a difficult and emotive reaction.”
- The letter has prompted accusations of a “conflict of interest” from Spinwatch, a Glasgow-based body which monitors public relations. It has threatened to lodge a complaint with the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman if the council fails to carry out its own inquiry.
- The documents, obtained by Spinwatch, include e-mails and letters between Gore and Ann Faulds, an Edinburgh-based solicitor with Dundas and Wilson, a law firm hired by Trump. They show that in February, Faulds drew up a report justifying why compulsory purchase orders might be needed to acquire extra land on and around Trump’s estate. It was drafted in Gore’s name for distribution to council members, however the local authority says it was never used.
- David Miller, professor of sociology at Strathclyde university and head of Spinwatch, said the documents raised serious questions about the council’s relationship with Trump. He said they showed the council knew of the possibility of forced evictions at least three months before the proposed move became public. “The question of probity and governance is raised by these documents,” said Miller. “The council is supposed to protect the public interest, not the private interests of a major corporation. These documents suggest Aberdeenshire council is too close to the Trump Organisation.”
- Trump plans to create the “world’s greatest golf course” on the estate, and hopes to be given permission next week to begin planting marram grass to stabilise ancient sand dunes on the coastline. However, the owners of the four properties on the estate have so far refused to sell their homes to make way for the development, despite several lucrative offers. Sarah Malone, a spoke — woman for Trump, dismissed Miller’s accusations as “mischief-making”.
- A spokeswoman for Aberdeenshire council denied any wrongdoing and said early discussions on the issue of CPOs had to be in private out of respect for the residents who might be affected.
Freedom of Information documents
Freedom of Information documents detailing meetings and correspondence between Dundas & Wilson and Aberdeenshire Council
- Agendas of unminuted meetings between Dundas & Wilson, acting on behalf of Donald Trump and Aberdeenshire Council, Sept 2008 to August 2009
- Correspondance between Ann Faulds of Dundas & Wilson and Christine Gore of Aberdeenshire Council, 17 February 2009
- Correspondance between Christine Gore of Aberdeenshire Council and Ann Faulds of Dundas & Wilson, 7 April 2009
- Email from Christine Gore to Ann Faulds, 17 April 2009
- Letter from Christine Gore to Ann Faulds, 2 June 2009
- Email exchange between Ann Faulds of Dundas & Wilson and Christine Gore of Aberdeenshire Council, 21 July 2009
Collusion claim against planner at centre of Trump row, The Sunday Herald, 30 November 2009
- Dundas & Wilson website, accessed 1 Dec 2009
- Aberdeenshire council ‘too close’ to Trump, Sunday Times, 25 October 2009, accessed 1 Dec 2009
- Collusion claim against planner at centre of Trump row The Sunday Herald, 30 November 2009, accessed 1 Dec 2009