Woman loses Trump International court case

Edinburgh Sheriff Court
Edinburgh Sheriff Court

A grandmother who took Donald Trump's firm to court for filming her urinating on the US president's Scottish golf course has lost her legal battle for damages.

Rohan Beyts,62, claimed Trump International Golf Course Scotland breached Data Protection legislation when employees took images of her relieving herself last April.

The retired social worker told Edinburgh Sheriff Court that she was "shocked" when police charged with committing an offence at the Menie resort near Balmedie.

Ms Beyts, who wasn't prosecuted, was left feeling "paranoid" that staff captured her answering the call of nature.

She learned that the firm may have contravened strict data protection legislation and sued the course, which is fully owned by Donald Trump, for £3,000.

She discovered that the company wasn't registered with the Information Commissioner and consequently wasn't able to record images of people.

But on Wednesday, Sheriff Donald Corke ruled against Ms Beyts and in favour of Trump International.

He ruled that Ms Beyt's solicitor advocate Mike Dailly didn't do enough to prove that the distress suffered by his client was with regard to the fact that the company wasn't registered with the information commissioner.

But the sheriff ruled that Ms Beyts was distressed by the fact that staff captured her image and that her photograph shouldn't have been taken.

The sheriff described the criminal complaint made against the granny as being "frivolous."

And he warned people who feel inclined to take images of people urinating in public that they may in future face criminal prosecution.

Sheriff Corke said: "The pursuer suffered distress as a consequence of having her image recorded. She should not have been photographed.

"I have to emphasis that officious bystanders who photograph females urinating in the countryside put themselves at very real risk of prosecution."

The decision came on the third day of proceedings at the small claims court at Edinburgh.

Ms Beyts, of Montrose, Angus, had told the court how Police Scotland officers arrived at her home three days after she answered the call of nature at Menie on April 11 last year.

She said she had go to the bathroom with "great urgency" after going for a walk with her friend Sue Edwards beside the multi million pound course.

She decided to accompany Ms Edwards because she had previously been photographed and harassed by members of staff at the resort.

Ms Beyts said she suffered from incontinence and had gone to spend a penny in some sand dunes. She said she thought nobody could see her doing the act.

Three days after she urinated, two police officers visited her home in Montrose, Angus and arrested her for public urination.

The procurator fiscal later decided no action would be taken.

Ms Beyts said: "I couldn't believe this was was happening. I was shocked - not because of the criminal charge but because of the police coming to my door for what was quite a trivial incident.

"I hadn't done anything wrong in my book. I had done what I alway did when I was out and needed the toilet."

She assumed she had been caught on CCTV but was later told by police three men had captured her image on mobile phones.

Ms Beyts told the court: "I felt really quite upset because I'd taken all possible steps to ensure I wasn't viewed."

Later in the day, Ms Beyts told the lawyer acting for Trump International, that she had received messages of support from golfers who had also answered the call of nature on the course.

She said: "I feel being filmed secretly is a bullying act."

Staff at Menie were given instructions to look out for the pair because they were active campaigners against the course. The two women believe that the Trump resort are causing environmental damage to the nearby countryside.

Lawyers acting for Trump argued that the employees hadn't breached Data Protection legislation because they were entitled to take photographs of people committing a criminal offence.

On Wednesday, Sheriff Corke ruled in favour of Trump International. Sheriff Corke said her lawyer Mike Dailly failed to prove that she was distressed as a direct result of not being registered with the Information Commissioner.

He awarded £300 costs against Beyts, who has raised £3,000 in crowdfunding to donate to the charity that Mike Dailly works for, the Govan Law Centre.

Mike Dailly said after the case: "The sheriff has found very, very clearly that Rohan should not have been photographed on the Menie golf course.

"And the sheriff has found that Rohan suffered distress as a consequence of surveillance carried out by members of the Trump organisation.

"What I think is very important is that we haven't won on a technical point. But one of the key things that the sheriff has said - and I have to emphasise this - is that officious bystanders taking pictures of females urinating in the countryside run a very real risk of prosecution under either an public order or a voyeurism offence."

Speaking after the case, Rohan said: "I'm feeling very relieved. I'm sorry about the pun - it wasn't meant to be.

"When I was first charged, my first instinct was to seek legal advice about whether I had a counter claim for voyeurism.

"At that stage I wasn't told that I didn't have.

"To me it was never about the monetary compensation. I wasn't interested in money. I was only interested in clearing my name when the Trump organisation representative spoke of me committing a deliberate and shameful act within a few feet of the club house in full view of staff and guests.

"That was not the case. I have over the last year received absolutely tremendous support from across the world It's felt really wonderful to be greeted on the streets of Edinburgh with people saying 'go for it. Well done. We're with you.

"I would like to thank all those people. I would like to thank my family - they've been wonderful. They didn't wish for me to be the focus of media attention.

"I would like to thank Mike Dailly of the Govan Law Centre which is a charity. He's done it out of the goodness of his own heart.

"My message for Donald Trump is to treat people with respect and dignity. If you do that you will be treated with respect and dignity back."

Donald Trump's organisation welcomed Sheriff Corke's judgement.

A statement released by the organisation read: "We are satisfied that justice has prevailed. The disingenuous by Rohan Beyts was a perversion of the truth and nothing more than an attempt at self publicity in an effort to garner support for her anti Trump, anti business propaganda.

"Members of our greenkeeping staff were flabbergasted at what they witnessed and reported the incident to police.

"It should have come as no surprise to her that she was charged for publicly urinating on golf course land."