Former first minister Alex Salmond has criticised Donald Trump for “silly” claims which implied Sir Sean Connery was instrumental in securing permission for his controversial Aberdeenshire golf course
After Sir Sean’s death at the age of 90 on Saturday, the American president claimed the James Bond actor helped him obtain planning permission for the much contested development on the Menie Estate.
Trump paid tribute to Mr Connery and claimed the star had stepped in, simply saying “let him build the damn thing” when he was having issues with development.
According to Trump, everything after that went “swimmingly” thanks to Sir Sean.
But last night politicians who were on the committee at the time he submitted the planning applications said they were not convinced by the claims.
Councillor Martin Ford was chairman of Aberdeenshire Council’s infrastructure services committee in 2006 when Trump’s application was being considered.
He later found himself with the casting vote, which led to the committee rejecting the plans for the Menie resort.
The Scottish Government then famously stepped in and a Public Inquiry was launched before the development was approved.
Last night Mr Ford called into question the legitimacy of Trump’s claims and said Sir Sean was “not involved in the due process that led to the granting of planning permission” at the Aberdeenshire resort.
Trump’s full Tweet read: “The legendary actor, 007 Sean Connery, has past 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.
“He was so highly regarded & respected in Scotland and beyond that years of future turmoil was avoided. Sean was a great actor and an even greater man. Sincere condolences to his family.”
Mr Ford said Sir Sean wasn’t at the hearing and he didn’t address the committee.
He added: “Over 3,000 letters of representation were sent in but I’m sure we would remember if we had heard from Sir Sean Connery.
“If Mr Trump says he helped him, then how did he do it? Or is Mr Trump telling the truth?
“He wasn’t involved in the due process that led to the granting of planning permission.
“I know he did make public statements of support but this is not the same as helping someone get planning permission.”
When asked about the claims former First Minster Alex Salmond said it was not a time for “tweeting silly claims” or “responding to them” as he paid tribute to the “world’s greatest Scot”.
He said: “The world’s greatest Scot, the last of the real Hollywood stars, the definitive Bond.
“Sean Connery was all of these things but much more. He was also a staunch patriot, a deep thinker and outstanding human being. I have had the rare privilege of being his friend for more than thirty years and enjoyed every single moment of his company and talk.”
“He was honest and brave and it has been one of the privileges of my life to count him as a friend. His sense of irony and humour were legendary as was his love of country,” Mr Salmond added.
“’Scotland Forever’ wasn’t just tattooed on his forearm but was imprinted on his soul.
“He was a great and gentle man.
“My condolences go to his wife Micheline, his sons Jason and Stefan, his bother Neil and all of the family.”
Floods of tributes were paid to the Scottish actor after he died peacefully in his sleep, surrounded by family at his home in the Bahamas.
Over his five-decade career, Sir Sean won an Oscar, two Baftas and three Golden Globes.
Pierce Brosnan, who starred as the secret agent in four films, said each subsequent Bond looked to Sir Sean “with reverence and admiration”.
He said: “Sir Sean Connery, you were my greatest James Bond as a boy, and as a man who became James Bond himself. You cast a long shadow of cinematic splendour that will live on forever.
“You led the way for us all who followed in your iconic foot steps. Each man in his turn looked to you with reverence and admiration as we forged ahead with our own interpretations of the role.
“You were mighty in every way, as an actor and as a man, and will remain so till the end of time. Your were loved by the world, and will be missed. God bless, rest now, be at peace.”