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Donald Trump threatens legal action over 'appalling' BBC documentary

The BBC screened the documentary about the US billionaire You’ve Been Trumped on Sunday night.

American businessman Donald Trump at the opening of his controversial golf course in Menie, Aberdeenshire.

Donald Trump is threatening legal action after the BBC screened a controversial documentary about the American billionaire.

You've Been Trumped, which aired on Sunday night, is the work of two filmmakers including director Anthony Baxter.

It was billed by the creators as an “examination of Donald Trump's plans to construct a luxury golf resort on one of the most environmentally sensitive stretches of land in Europe”.

The film features Mr Baxter's arrest by police and accounts from local residents, several of whom were given their own cameras to record their feelings about the development.

A spokeswoman for the US tycoon said they were "appalled" by the "highly biased and "manipulative" programme.

Sarah Malone, executive vice president, Trump International Golf Links, said: “We are appalled at the BBC's decision to broadcast the highly biased and manipulative so-called documentary You've Been Trumped. We totally denounce the BBC for further abandoning its own editorial integrity by blatantly refusing us a right of reply at the end of the broadcast last night.

"It just goes to show that recent criticism of the BBC's lack of sound editorial judgement to be correct. It is not a documentary - it is a piece of propaganda that is wildly inaccurate, defamatory and deliberately misleading.

“Baxter is not a credible journalist or film-maker. He set out to create a sensationalist, ‘Local Hero’ story, through underhand, clandestine means, in the hope of making money off the Trump name. He's created a modern day fairytale that bears no resemblance to reality or the truth.

“The film focuses on the skewed views of three or four opponents to the development, and does not represent the hundreds of thousands of local residents who support the project (nearly 90% of the population according to an independent local poll) or the ten thousand people that flocked to play the course this season.

“We have taken legal advice, and are determined not to let this matter end here.”

Mr Baxter however said his documentary was “a victory for free speech”. He added: "I know it's been a difficult day for the BBC but I'm proud they did show it.

"It's an extremely important film which gave the residents a voice and exposes Trump's bullying tactics. The whole point of making a documentary is to get to the truth and of course Trump may not like the truth.

"The film catalogues a year and a half of the Menie Estate. What you see is what happened, it is not inaccurate.

"I would ask Sarah to read the reviews written by all the critics, they all gave it four stars or above and made it the pick of the week on the television schedules.

"I don't have to justify my track record to the Trump organisation, it was Trump who launched a tirade on Twitter last week claiming the residents were all morons."

Mr Baxter revealed that Trump tried to force the BBC to not screen his controversial documentary at the last minute.

He said: "Trump's legal team made an 11th hour bid to stop the BBC from broadcasting the film on Friday.

"His attempt to gag freedom of speech is extraordinary. The whole point of journalism is to hold the powerful to account and that's what I've done.

"I don't know the full details why he's claiming it shouldn't have been shown, but he had plenty opportunities to defend himself in the film, but he refused to do so."

A spokesman for the BBC said: "You’ve Been Trumped is an award-winning film that has been screened at international festivals around the world. During the making of the film, Donald Trump declined the opportunity to take part.

"We are confident that Donald Trump was offered sufficient right to reply in accordance with BBC Editorial Guidelines. Donald Trump chose not to participate but the film-maker took care to reflect his views on a number of different occasions in the film."

The building of Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeenshire became a controversial issue, with environmental campaigners opposing the construction of the course on protected sand dunes and Mr Trump complaining about a potential offshore wind farm being built near the site.

The businessman cut a ribbon on the first tee in July to mark the opening and hit the first balls with former Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie.

More than £100m has been spent on the course and the clubhouse, but further plans for a hotel and homes in the area have been put on hold until a final decision is made on the offshore wind farm proposal.

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