Conflict of interest probe into Trump resort and Scottish airport

Turnberry, owned by Donald Trump, gains from US military use of Prestwick. Picture: Robert Perry
Turnberry, owned by Donald Trump, gains from US military use of Prestwick. Picture: Robert Perry
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A powerful committee in the US Congress has launched an inquiry into spending by the US defence department at the Scottish Government-owned Prestwick Airport amid concerns of “serious conflicts of interest” and potential violations of military custom at the transport hub and president Donald Trump’s nearby Turnberry resort.

The House oversight and reform committee said US military spending at the Ayrshire airport had “increased substantially” since Trump came to office, and pointed out the airport was “integral” to Turnberry’s financial success.

It comes after The Scotsman detailed how Prestwick’s parent company had received more than £9.02m for 644 orders to refuel US Armed Forces aircraft between October 2017 and March 2019.

Scotland on Sunday can reveal that in the six months since, further refuelling orders have netted Prestwick another £4.8m. The deal with the US Defence Logistics Agency, which manages the supply chain for the US armed forces, is by far the airport’s biggest revenue stream.

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie has accused the Scottish Government of “propping up Donald Trump’s militaristic agenda” given the airport’s extensive US military custom.

However, the spending has also raised questions over whether Trump’s golf resort is benefiting from the US military activity in the area.

It emerged yesterday that a crew who stopped over at Prestwick on a military plane in April en route to Kuwait stayed at Trump’s resort.

A report on the Politico website quoted a US Air Force official who said the decision to refuel at Prestwick and stay at Turnberry was unusual.

The US committee, which can investigate federal government business, has written to the US defence department, demanding documents and spending records related to Prestwick, including “communications related to defence department flights routed through Prestwick”.

It calls on the Pentagon to disclose all correspondence between the US defence department and Trump’s firms in Scotland.

Prestwick was put up for sale earlier this year by Scottish ministers, with the bidding period closing on Friday.