The frontrunner to become President Donald Trump’s ambassador to the European Union claims to have served as the head of a Scottish educational institution, despite the fact there is no record of its existence.
Ted Malloch, a political scientist and author who has been widely tipped to secure the prestigious position in Brussels, wrote in his autobiography that his CV includes a period serving as “president of the Ancient Scottish Universities Trust.”
Mr Malloch, one of Mr Trump’s most prominent supporters in Britain, is a graduate of the University of Aberdeen and went on to helm its US development arm.
But in his book, he suggests his role in Scottish education was far more extensive, involving oversight of the accounts at not only Aberdeen, but Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrew’s universities.
He wrote that as part of the position, “my charge was to bring them into the twenty-first century financially.” However, there is no record of an Ancient Scottish Universities Trust. A spokeswoman for Universities Scotland, the representative body of Scotland’s 19 higher education institutions, told The Scotsman it had no knowledge of an organisation by that name.
Mr Malloch has upset leaders this side of the Atlantic by comparing the European Union to the Soviet Union and has joked that the UK could become the 51st state of the US.
A professor of strategic leadership and governance at Henley Business School in Reading, he is a regular contributor to BBC programmes such as Radio 4’s Today and The World at One, and Newsnight.
But the publication of his latest book, documenting his whirlwind international career in economics and foreign relations, has raised a series of questions over the veracity of his claims.
Writing in ‘Davos, Aspen, & Yale: My Life Behind the Elite Curtain as a Global Sherpa’, Mr Malloch said he had been “made a laird” by the Court of the Lord Lyon - Scotland’s official heraldic authority - a gesture which included being “given a personal coat of arms with a fancy Latin inscription.”
However, the court said Mr Malloch’s claim could not be true as neither it nor any other authority have the power to confer a lairdship on an individual.
Elizabeth Roads, Lyon Clerk at the Court of the Lord Lyon, told The Scotsman: “This office is not involved in any way with lairds. Lairds are people who own large estates and are called laird by the locals on the estate. You can’t create or grant a lairdship, there is no such power.”
She added: “Mr Malloch did indeed petition for a Grant of Arms and received a coat of arms many years ago now, but he was not made a laird. I suspect he may have been confused. Perhaps someone said to him that had made him a laird, when it certainly did not.”
The Financial Times has also cast doubt over excerpts from Mr Malloch’s book, published last month. It includes his claims that former prime minister Margaret Thatcher described him as a “genius,” which is not corroborated by a video recording of the event in question.
The newspaper has also pointed out while Mr Malloch has said a documentary he presented had been nominated for an Emmy award, it was not shortlisted.
Mr Malloch, who said he has been interviewed at Trump Tower and vetted for the ambassadorial nomination, has yet to respond to The Scotsman.
The apparently misleading and erroneous claims have raised concerns over his suitability as an ambassador, according to the leader of the one of the largest political groups in the European Parliament.
Gianni Pittella MEP, president of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, said: Mr Malloch’s “personal credibility has been heavily put into question.”
In his book, Mr Malloch writes extensively about his Scottish heritage, stating that he is active in the St Andrew’s Society, and proudly wears the tartan of Clan Gregor.
Reflecting on his days as a student in Scotland, he explained: “It was in Aberdeen that I developed a love of single-malt Scotch; a fondness for tweed suits and cashmere sweaters, haggis and mince and and tatties as well; and a feeling that somehow the ‘children of the mist’ were indeed my own people, as my grandfather had tried to tell me.”
Elsewhere, he lists his favourite single malts and golf courses in Scotland, including a special mention from Trump International Golf Links (“Maybe this is why America needs Trump in the Oval Office. He gets things done that other people cannot even imagine”).