SNP ministers decided to use Donald Trump’s first Scottish golf course to try and boost the economy just a day after controversially granting it planning permission, it has emerged.

Cabinet papers show ministers wanted to use the “positive outcome” on the Menie Estate project to highlight “Scotland’s attractiveness as a place to do business” worldwide.

At the time, the Scottish economy was suffering as a result of the global financial crisis.

Mr Trump applied to build his Trump International Golf Links, hotel and a luxury housing estate near Balmedie in 2006, but quickly ran into planning problems.

The project included rare sand dunes classed as a site of special scientific interest. 

In late 2007, Aberdeenshire Council rejected the plan, but Scottish ministers “called in” the application so that they would ultimately decide it.

It led to an early sleaze row for the SNP government, with First Minister Alex Salmond, a keen golfer whose constituency included Balmedie, accused of being biased.

On 3 November 2008, then finance secretary John Swinney approved the proposals, saying there was "a significant economic and social benefit" in the project.

Mr Salmond added: "In tough economic times, substantial investment of this kind is at a premium."

The minutes of the Scottish cabinet held the following day mention the deal.

Under “Menie Estate”, they record: “Mr Swinney said that outline planning permission had been granted for the Menie Estate planning application by Trump International Golf Links.”

The project then gets a further mention when the cabinet turns to its weekly discussion on the state of the economy and its constantly updated Scottish economic recovery plan.

The minutes state: “In relation to the positive outcome of the Menie Estate planning application, it might be desirable to place articles in the international media, which use this case to highlight the advantages of locating and relocating in Scotland.”

The cabinet then agreed that “with reference to the Menie Estate planning application, articles should be placed in the international media, detailing Scotland's attractiveness as a place to do business”.

The Menie Estate opened in 2012, but the planned houses have yet to materialise, while the sand dune system later lost its protected status as it was so badly damaged.

Mr Trump, US president from 2017 to 2021, later had a public falling out with Mr Salmond over the granting of an off-shore windfarm which was visible from the Menie estate.