US deal with Prest­wick put on hold

The Scotsman - - FRONT PAGE - By MAR­TYN MCLAUGH­LIN and ALAS­TAIR DAL­TON

A lu­cra­tive new US mil­i­tary air­craft re­fu­elling deal with Glas­gow Prest­wick Air­port has been put on hold amid mul­ti­ple in­ves­ti­ga­tions and grow­ing po­lit­i­cal scru­tiny on both sides of the At­lantic into US mil­i­tary pa­tron­age and spend­ing at the trans­port hub and Pres­i­dent Trump’s flag­ship Scot­tish re­sort, The Scots­man can re­veal.

A US De­fence De­part­ment agency has post­poned a lu­cra­tive new mil­i­tary air­craft re­fu­elling deal with Glas­gow Prest­wick Air­port amid mul­ti­plein­ves­ti­ga­tions and grow­ing po­lit­i­cal scru­tiny on both sides of the At­lantic into US mil­i­tary pa­tron­age and spend­ing at the trans­port hub and pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s flag­ship Scot­tish re­sort.

The Scots­man can re­veal the ex­panded EUCOM Into-plane agree­ment cov­er­ing the Scot­tish Govern­ment-owned air­port and the US De­fence Lo­gis­tics Agency (DLA), which was due to come into force in a matter of weeks, has been put on hold un­til De­cem­ber at the ear­li­est.

One source fa­mil­iar with the deal told The Scots­man it was be­ing “kicked into the long grass” as a re­sult of a newly dis­closed in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the House Over­sight Com­mit­tee.

It is look­ing into the US De­fence De­part­ment’s spend­ing at Prest­wick and Mr Trump’s Turn­berry re­sort over con­cerns of “se­ri­ous con­flicts of in­ter­est” and po­ten­tial vi­o­la­tions of the for­eign emol­u­ments clause of the US con­sti­tu­tion.

As The Scots­man re­vealed in June, the air­port re­ceived more than £9.02 mil­lion be­tween Oc­to­ber 2017 and March this year for fuel orders placed by the DLA, which man­ages the Us mil­i­tary sup­ply chain. it has re­ceived a fur­ther £4.8 min the six months since.

The new DLA deal cov­ers not only Prest­wick, but a host of Euro­pean air­ports as far afield as Es­to­nia, Ice­land, Nor­way and Poland, who sup­ply US mil­i­tary air­craft with fuel.

Doc­u­men­ta­tion ob­tained by The Scots­man shows the DLA at­tributes the post­pone­ment to is­sues with the “ex­ten­sive pre-award process”.

How­ever, sources fa­mil­iar with the agency’s ex­ist­ing and fu­ture agree­ments with the air­port said the con­tro­versy en­gulf­ing Prest­wick, Trump Turn­berry and the US De­fence De­part­ment was di­rectly to blame.

One said: “They don’t think they want to do any­thing un­til the Con­gres­sional com­mit­tee’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion has con­cluded.”

A spokes­woman for Prest­wick said: “The ex­ist­ing DLA ap­proval has been ex­tended by two months un­til 30 Novem­ber, 2019. This is a Euro­pean­wide ex­ten­sion and not spe­cific to the air­port lo­ca­tion.”

It comes as the Scot­tish Greens yes­ter­day urged min­is­ters to rule out sell­ing Prest­wick to the US mil­i­tary.

Trans­port sec­re­tary Michael Matheson refused to re­spond to the call, say­ing that com­ment­ing on who might be bid­ding could “in­fringe” the sale process. He ex­plained: “I don’t want to be eva­sive, but I’m try­ing to pro­tect the process the man­age­ment team are un­der­tak­ing, so I am not go­ing to en­ter into any spec­u­la­tion about any po­ten­tial pur­chase or pur­chaser of the air­port.”

Green Trans­port spokesper­son John Fin­nie MSP later con­demned the re­sponse as “scan­dalous”, adding: “We know Prest­wick Air­port has fa­cil­i­tated ac­tive US mil­i­tary mis­sions and ex­traor­di­nary ren­di­tion flights… the Cab­i­net sec­re­tary’s fail­ure to rule out sell­ing the air­port to the US mil­i­tary is ab­so­lutely scan­dalous and leaves open the pos­si­bil­ity that such hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions could con­tinue un­hin­dered in fu­ture.”

Up to three of­fers are be­ing as­sessed fol­low­ing the dead­line for full bids last Friday. Glas­gow Air­port has told The Scots­man it did not bid, but Ed­in­burgh Air­port has refused to com­ment.

“The fail­ure to rule out sell­ing the air­port to the US mil­i­tary… leaves open the pos­si­bil­ity that such hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions could con­tinue”

JOHN FIN­NIE MSP

PICTURE: ANDY BUCHANAN/GETTY

0 A Beechcraft C12 air­craft with the words “United States of Amer­ica” on its fuse­lage takes off from Glas­gow Prest­wick air­port yes­ter­day

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