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Trump firm settles legal bill over Scottish windfarm dispute

The Trump Organization has settled a £225,000 legal bill with the Scottish government after it lost a long court battle against a windfarm near its Aberdeenshire golf course.

The Scottish government said Donald Trump’s family firm had agreed to pay its legal fees before a dispute over those costs went to adjudication by a court-appointed auditor.

The Guardian revealed last month that the government had accused the Trump Organization of refusing to pay its legal costs despite a court order earlier this year after Trump lost a UK supreme court case in 2015.

Trump sued ministers in Edinburgh in 2012 over the decision to authorise and support the construction of an 11-turbine experimental windfarm about two miles from the southern boundary of his coastal golf course north of Aberdeen.

He described the scheme as “monstrous” and claimed the decision to give it the go-ahead lay behind his decision to freeze further spending on the resort, which was originally due to cost at least £750m and include a five-star hotel, multi-storey timeshare flats, holiday villas, a golf academy and large clubhouse.

He lost at every stage and three civil court judges sitting in Edinburgh ruled in February that he was liable to pay the Scottish government’s legal costs. After months of stalemate between the two sides, the dispute was due to be settled by an independent auditor.

A Scottish government spokesman said on Tuesday that the dispute was now over. “We can confirm that settlement has now been reached – and this has removed the need for the expenses to be determined by the auditor of the court of session,” he said. “Expenses amounting to £225,000 will now be paid to Scottish ministers by the petitioners [the Trump Organization].”

Trump’s staff in Aberdeenshire did not respond to a request for comment on the decision to settle but last month told the Guardian the company had not refused to pay the legal bill.

Sarah Malone, the executive vice-president of the Trump golf resort, said in October: “This is not in our control. The matter is in the hands of the auditors of the court of session and the Scottish ministers.”

The company has recently admitted the resort was never developed along Trump’s original plans because of the global recession in 2008 and the collapse in oil prices in 2014. Trump and his family firm have now loaned the business £43m and it has yet to turn a profit.

Last month, Trump Golf Resort Scotland won permission from Aberdeenshire council for a much-scaled down version of the resort, involving a second 18-hole golf course and a 550-home private estate, including holiday villas, on nearby farmland.