Donald Trump's claim about Sir Sean Connery labelled 'silly'


President Donald Trump has paid his own tribute to the late James Bond star Sir Sean Connery, hailing him as a "great actor and an even greater man".

The controversial US president, who is up for re-election this week, added that the Scot was "so highly regarded" it had helped him win planning approval for a controversial development.

In 2007 Mr Trump's plans to build a luxury golf resort on the Menie Estate near Balmedie were thrown into disarray, when Aberdeenshire Council refused to grant him planning permission for the project.

The Scottish Government then "called in" the planning decision, and in November 2008 ministers approved the development, as they said it would have "significant economic and social benefit".

In a tweet the president said the involvement of the 007 star had been key to him getting the green light.

Mr Trump said: "The legendary actor, 007 Sean Connery, has past (sic) on to even greener fairways.

"He was quite a guy, and a tough character.

"I was having a very hard time getting approvals for a big development in Scotland when Sean stepped in and shouted, 'Let him build the damn thing'.

"That was all I needed, everything went swimmingly from there."

Trump's claim was quickly dismissed by those familiar with the deal.

Martin Ford, the councillor who was chair of the planning committee that initially refused Trump's application, told the Guardian: "Mr Connery was not involved in the due process that led to the granting of planning permission for a golf resort at Menie. He did not submit a letter of representation to the council, appear at the planning hearing, or at the public local inquiry."

Ex-Scottish first minister Alex Salmond said: "Scotland and much of the world is mourning the loss of a great spirit. Sean Connery's contribution and life's work was immense, real and lasting and everyone with an ounce of class is reflecting upon just that today. Tributes are great from all sources but this is not a time for tweeting silly claims or indeed responding to them."

David Milne, a near neighbour of the Trump golf course in Scotland, said the US president's claim was "utter b*llocks".