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Scottish political editor Brian Taylor
"Alex Salmond says it is discriminatory"
 real 56k

Sunday, 3 December, 2000, 17:37 GMT
SNP anger at 007 'discrimination'
Akex Salmond and Sir Sean Connery
Alex Salmond and Sir Sean Connery
The Scottish National Party has complained that legislation banning foreign donations to political parties discriminates against the support it receives from former 007 star Sir Sean Connery.

Under legislation passed on Thursday in Westminster, foreign companies and individuals will not be allowed to make donations unless they are registered in the UK.

The 70-year-old actor, who lives in Spain, donates 4,800 a month to SNP coffers

Northern Ireland parties have been exempt from the new laws, and will still be allowed to accept money from American donors.

This is clearly discriminatory and I wouldn't be surprised if the Labour government find themselves challenged in the courts

SNP MP Alex Salmond
The SNP say this discriminates against them.

Former SNP leader Alex Salmond said: "I think it is quite extraordinary that the government has drawn up regulations that would allow an ex-pat Irish person to donate money to Sinn Fein - a party which has been associated with violence - that prevents an ex-pat Scot giving money to the SNP, a party with a 70-year history with impeccable constitutional behaviour and abiding by the rule of law.

"It is a ridiculous situation."

"The Neill Committee recommended that the exemption should only apply to Southern Ireland and not the rest of the world, which is what the government have done, and secondly the committee recommended that anyone who could be on the electoral register should be able to give donations.

He added: "Any bill which comes through Westminster has to carry a notification it is in line with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Liberal Democrat MP Menzies Campbell
Menzies Campbell: Fairness call
"This is clearly discriminatory and I wouldn't be surprised if the Labour government find themselves challenged in the courts."

Liberal Democrat MP Menzies Campbell, speaking in a personal capacity, said: "I'm in no doubt whatsoever that every political party in the United Kingdom should be subject to the same laws and the same regulation about financial contributions.

"You should only be able to contribute to the activities of a political party in this country if you live here and you are on the electoral register, or your a company that has its head office here, and pays British taxes."

The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act incorporates many of the Neill Committee recommendations on party funding and elections.

It includes banning foreign donations, making the disclosure of large donations to parties a legal requirement, setting spending limits for parties during election periods and regulating referendums.

Sir Sean, who was knighted by the Queen in July at the Palace of Holyrood house in Edinburgh, has also campaigned for the SNP in the past.

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See also:

05 Jul 00 | Scotland
Sir Sean's pride at knighthood
27 Jul 99 | UK Politics
SNP could face Connery cash cut
18 Aug 99 | Scotland
Connery 'stabbed in the back'
26 Apr 99 | The Scottish Parliament
CV: Alex Salmond
17 Jul 00 | Talking Point
The Salmond decade
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