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Politics: SNP seeks inquiry into Connery snub

THE Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards is to be asked to investigate claims that the former Bond actor Sean Connery was denied a knighthood because of a donation to the Scottish National Party.

Alex Salmond, the SNP leader, yesterday said that he would be writing to Lord Neill to ask him if people are discriminated against for giving money to political parties.

Mr Salmond was speaking after the Scottish Grand Committee in Edinburgh, where he had earlier tried to raise the subject with Donald Dewar, the Secretary of State for Scotland, through a question about more freedom of information within the new Scottish Parliament.

He said: "Perhaps if there is more freedom of information, we could be told if Mr Connery or anyone else has been discriminated against because of their political policies."

However, the committee chairman, John Maxton MP, immediately ruled Mr Salmond out of order - leaving Mr Dewar free to ignore the question.

Later Mr Salmond said: "It is unprecedented that the chairman of the committee intervened to protect the minister from answering. My question was certainly about freedom of information, about publishing the decision where Sean Connery was discriminated against for political reasons.

"These questions are not going to go away. They will remain until they are answered because they reflect on the credibility of the Government and the decision-making processes going on in the Scottish Office."

Mr Salmond said he would be writing to Lord Neill, as he was unable to table Parliamentary questions on the subject in the House of Commons.

Mr Dewar also came under some fire for the leaked proposal to house the Scottish Parliament temporarily in the former headquarters of Strathclyde Regional Council in Glasgow.

Ironically he was being questioned in the building which many felt should have housed the Parliament, the Old Royal High School, rather than in a new building in Holyrood.

Mr Dewar accused the Nationalists of "blind prejudice" against Glasgow, but added that it was still a contest between three sites. He said: "I was astonished by the Nationalists' reactions to the suggestion that there should be a site in Glasgow. I don't believe any sensible person would see it as an insult to Glasgow. I can only think that it comes from a view based on blind prejudice."

He added that as soon as the Glasgow option was raised he had informed the opposition parties.