07:46, April 05 624 0 theguardian.com

2017-04-05 07:46:03
Activist loses case against Trump golf course over urination photographs

Rohan Beyts, a hillwalker and environmental activist, has lost her legal action for breach of privacy against Donald Trump’s golf resort in Aberdeenshire.

Sheriff Donald Corke ruled that the US president’s staff at the resort had not unfairly taken photographs of Beyts without her knowledge while she was urinating near his golf course on a walk there in April 2016.

Beyts, a retired social worker, sued Trump International Golf Course Scotland (TIGCS) for £3,000 in the small claims court in Edinburgh after she was charged by police with public nuisance following a complaint from the company.

Trump’s employees had taken photographs on their mobile phones of her urinating, without her permission, and used some images as evidence for their complaint to police. The case was eventually dropped by prosecutors.

At the time of the incident TIGCS was not registered under the UK’s data protection laws, despite operating an extensive CCTV system and holding records on thousands of guests, their employees and suppliers.

Beyts had a bladder condition at the time and her lawyer Mike Dailly, who was representing her for free, told the court Beyts had made every effort to ensure she was not seen.

She had a legal right to walk there under Scotland’s right-to-roam legislation, and had observed the Scottish countryside access code, which allows walkers to urinate discreetly.

Corke said Beyts’s lawyer, Mike Dailly, had failed to show that she was distressed because TIGCS had not been properly registered under the Data Protection Act with the Information Commissioner’s Office.

But he accused the Trump Organization of making a “frivolous” complaint about Beyts urinating in the dunes: she had done so legally, under Scotland’s right to roam laws.

He awarded costs of £300 – the top limit under Scotland’s small claims court rules – to TIGCS.

Beyts told the court she was “really upset” after discovering she had been photographed by three men using their mobile phones. “I found that really disturbing,” she said. “I felt really quite upset because I had taken all possible steps to ensure I wasn’t viewed.”

The court heard evidence from police witness statements that Trump staff had been told to “keep an eye” on Beyts and her companion, Sue Edwards. Both women are active campaigners against the Trump development, and had been walking there to uphold a public right of way across the course.

Paul Motion, the lawyer for TIGCS, told the court on Tuesday the course’s employees were legally entitled to take photographs if they believed someone was committing an offence. And there was no evidence they had mishandled the images they had taken, or that they had breached the Data Protection Act 1998.

“It was reasonable, proportionate and fair under the circumstances for [Trump Organization] employees to consider a crime was being committed and to take a photograph of that act,” he said.