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Tuesday, February 24, 1998 Published at 10:50 GMT


Government challenged over Connery knighthood
image: [ Sean Connery: in the firing line again ]
Sean Connery: in the firing line again

Scottish Nationalists are challenging the Prime Minister to publish documents they believe will prove the Labour government blocked a knighthood for the actor Sean Connery.

Sean Connery, speaking to BBC Radio's Today programme, says the decision is "purely political" (5'09")
The Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond says he believes the Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar intervened to stop the honour going to the former James Bond star because of the actor's support for an independent Scotland.

The SNP has tabled questions in the House of Commons, demanding to know whether ministers intervened to prevent the actor from getting a knighthood.

[ image: Will it be
Will it be "Sir Sean"?
Sean Connery told the BBC on Tuesday he believed the decision had been "purely political".

Mr Connery is the nationalists' most prominent supporter and the SNP claims documents in the Scottish Office will verify the knighthood, agreed by the Conservatives, was blocked when Labour won the election.

Mr Salmond said: "How foolish of the smear doctors in the Labour Party to indulge in character assassination of the world's most famous Scotsman when indeed it was shabby political motivation that stopped the honour being given."

It is Sean Connery's reported remarks about women which some Labour MPs say are to blame.

[ image: Alex Salmond: challenging the Prime Minister]
Alex Salmond: challenging the Prime Minister
Mr Connery was reported in a 1993 Vanity Fair interview as saying: "to slap a woman is not the cruellest thing you can do to her ... It's much more cruel to damage somebody psychologically ... to put them in such distress they really come to hate themselves".

The BBC's political correspondent Nicholas Jones says ministers are furious because they believe Scottish Nationalists are seeking to make political capital out of Sean Connery.

Labour MPs are accusing the SNP of being hypocrites, because while the party refuses to apply for honours, which are given in the name of the Queen, members are happy to accept them.

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