Donald Trump has leapt to the defence of Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minister, in the controversy surrounding the US property magnate’s plans to build a £1bn golf resort near Aberdeen. Financial Times

The Scottish National Party leader has been criticised by opposition politicians for meeting Trump’s representatives at a luxury hotel in Aberdeen last week, just a day before the Scottish government announced ministers would have the final say on the scheme.

Yesterday the US developer expressed his gratitude to Salmond and James Mackinnon, the Scottish government’s chief planner, for agreeing to have separate meetings with his team last week.

'Although they would not discuss any particular details of our planning application and did not in any way indicate their support or opposition to our application, the meetings were important in that they demonstrate a great concern and commitment for the people of Aberdeenshire and Scotland,' Trump said in a letter to Aberdeenshire councillors.

The Trump application was 'called in' by ministers to decide, after it had been unexpectedly rejected on environmental grounds by a council committee.