Donald Trump tried to force the BBC to drop the broadcast of a critically acclaimed documentary on his alleged bullying of residents near his Scottish golf resort. Lawyers for the New York property magnate contacted the BBC two days before the feature-length film You've Been Trumped was screened on BBC2, claiming it was highly defamatory, biased and misleading, and demanding a right of reply. In a letter to the BBC from Dundas & Wilson, a prominent Scottish law firm which has acted for Trump for several years, the Trump organisation threatened to complain formally to Ofcom and the BBC Trust if the screening went ahead.
The BBC rejected the request and gave the documentary, directed by Anthony Baxter, its network television premiere. It was watched by an estimated 1.1 million viewers, about 40% higher than average figures for the last three months, and earned praise from reviewers. Trump's organisation retaliated saying it was appalled by the BBC's decision to show the "highly biased and manipulative so-called documentary". George Sorial, Trump's chief counsel, said the trust should sack Roger Mosey, the acting director of BBC Vision. "The BBC is now an active participant in what many who are familiar with Baxter's work know is a complete false telling of the story behind the construction of Trump Golf Scotland," Sorial said.
"I would say Roger Mosey should certainly resign or the BBC should consider firing him. We're filing complaints with Ofcom and the BBC Trust and are considering other available legal actions." Sarah Malone, the executive vice-president of Trump International Golf Links, who featured in the film, said: "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. "It just goes to show that recent criticism of the BBC's lack of sound editorial judgment to be correct. It is not a documentary – it is a piece of propaganda that is wildly inaccurate, defamatory and deliberately misleading."
She said Baxter had sought to make "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." Trump has refused to see the film but last week he described his critics as "morons". He asserted that Baxter had "zero talent" and was a "stupid fool" whose film had helped publicise and promote his golf course at Menie, north of Aberdeen. Baxter said he repeatedly asked Trump for an interview while he was making the documentary but none of the offers were taken up. The film showed Baxter asking Trump to respond to allegations of bullying and ill-treatment against local residents a number of times. It featured Trump talking 16 times and quoted his supporters backing the project.
Residents now fear Trump will launch another eviction onslaught.