A FILMMAKER has spoken of the “tense” face-to-face interview he was finally granted with Donald Trump after years of pursuing him over the tycoon’s controversial golf course development in Aberdeenshire.
Anthony Baxter’s documentary, The Dark Side of the Greens, will air tonight on BBC4 and see the billionaire put on the spot over Trump International Golf Links at Balmedie.
The programme is an edited version of Baxter’s A Dangerous Game, a follow-up to his acclaimed 2011 release You’ve Been Trumped, which charted the impact of the tycoon’s arrival in the area and his impact on both the protected environment of the course’s site and its neighbours.
Baxter, 46, said: “Trump was aware of the huge backlash that had come about from You’ve Been Trumped being aired on the BBC. He agreed to do an interview with me as part of this film and answer the questions I had been trying to put to him for years, since the making of the first film.
“I did the interview with him in New York at Trump Tower and it was important moment because we had spent so long not getting answers, in particular about the residents and the way they were treated.
“Mr Trump stands by his treatment of them, including Molly Forbes and her son Michael.
“He stands by what he said about Michael Forbes. He said his tone was harsh when he called Michael Forbes a pig, but he lives in a slum and he has to tidy up his property.”
Baxter said the interview was an “important moment” in his work, which earlier saw him arrested by security guards at the site when he tried to investigate problems with Mrs Forbes’ water supply.
He added: “The interview was certainly tense. He started by saying that since the BBC aired your documentary you have become a much more important person in terms of doing the interview and so that is why I am doing the interview. You can see how his mind works.”
Baxter said his work on Trump continued to have “relavance” given Trump’s campaign to become the Republican candidate for the US presidential elections.
He said a major issue for him was the initial claim that the course at Balmedie was going to create around 6,000 jobs.
While none of the houses or course hotel have yet materialised, plans were lodged in March with Aberdeenshire Council to build 850 residential properties and 1,900 holiday homes, effectively building a new village between Balmedie and Newburgh.
In his latest documentary, the impact of other luxury courses on landscape and locals around the world is examined and features interviews with actor Alec Baldwin and Robert Kennedy Jnr, who both campaign on environmental issues.
Baxter lives in Montrose, where golf is part of the fabric of the links town. Was he every tempted to pick up the clubs?
He said: “My uncle Dennis, who is a great golfer and is 83-year-old, goes out onto the course every day. He was saying it was a shame that I didn’t play and I think it is a shame. I love the fact that the golf course here is open to all.”
• Dark Side of The Greens screens on BBC4 tonight at 9pm