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Wednesday, June 3, 1998 Published at 23:30 GMT 00:30 UK

UK Politics

SNP puts price on Connery's support

Sean Connery contributes nearly 58,000 a year to the SNP

The film star Sean Connery gives nearly 5,000 a month to the Scottish National Party, it has been revealed.

The figure came to light in a special session of the Committee for Standards in Public Life, being held in Scotland.

The SNP's vice-convenor for fundraising, George Reid, said: "He pays this party about 4,800 a month.

"This is in the accounts made available to this committee. He is quite open about it."

Mr Connery, best known for his screen portrayal of the British secret agent James Bond, is a high profile supporter of the SNP and a strong advocate of Scottish independence.

[ image: Lord Neill, who is heading the Parliamentary committee]
Lord Neill, who is heading the Parliamentary committee
Headed by Lord Neill, the Parliamentary committee is taking evidence in Scotland for two days as part of its study into the funding of political parties.

Mr Reid and the SNP Chief Executive, Mike Russell, told the committee their party had been "entirely open" about present and past financing.

They also pledged strong support for "transparency" in funding - the publication of donations above an agreed threshold.

But they insisted there must be safeguards to protect those sponsors who give to parties outside government.

In a written submission, the party referred back to allegations that Mr Connery had been turned down by the government for a knighthood because of his public support for the SNP.

"Members of the committee will be aware of the disgraceful prejudice shown by New Labour against Sean Connery with regard to an honour," the submission said.

[ image: Alex Salmond called the government
Alex Salmond called the government "mean-spirited and vindictive"
"We believe that there is a real risk that similar prejudice would be applied to persons who were identified as SNP financial supporters."

On being told in February that he had allegedly been turned down for a knighthood, Mr Connery said he was "deeply disappointed but not angry or geatly surprised."

But the SNP leader, Alex Salmond, said it had been "petty, mean-spirited and vindictive."

The Scottish Office maintained a silence on the matter, saying it never commented on individual honours recommendations.

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