Sir Sean Connery wished tax deal to assist with devolution marketing campaign | Leisure

Sir Sean Connery wanted help with his taxes in exchange for backing the then-government’s devolution campaign.

The James Bond legend – who was living in Marbella and Los Angeles at the time – was keen to support Prime Minister Tony Blair’s campaign for his native Scotland to have its own parliament in late 1997 but expressed concern that would mean spending more than 90 days in the UK and so he’d have to pay out more money.

The late actor – who died last year aged 90 – met with then-minister without portfolio Peter Mandelson to discuss his concerns and expressed his fury that others groups such as “Arabs” were “not subject to the same strictures”.

A note from Mr. Mandelson to Jonathan Powell, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, explained Sean wanted leniency with his tax bills if he was to back the campaign.

He wrote in the note, which was titled “Sean Connery: Devolution and tax”: “I have now spoken to Sean Connery, several times over the last 10 days. He is very keen to help promote a ‘yes’ vote on the referendum on devolution in Scotland.

“But he is concerned that his scope to help will be badly constrained by the residency rules, which means that he’s liable for tax if he spends more than 90 days in the UK, in any year.

“He sees this as iniquitous to him personally, and claims that certain other individuals and indeed ethnic groups (he mentioned the “Arabs”) are not subject to the same strictures.”

And the ‘League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ actor had raised concerns that tax legislation in the UK meant movie makers were reluctant to shoot films in Britain.

The note continued: “He also pointed out that the rules in the UK constrain the ability of this country to attract the big movie makers to shoot here.

“It is certainly true that in the last few years, we have lost out on some big pictures to Ireland, in particular, because of their more sympathetic tax arrangements.”

The minister highlighted the fact Sean had already made the points to Mr. Powell earlier in the year “at some length in Los Angeles”, but suggested the Prime Minister should speak directly to the actor.

In the note, which has been shared by the National Archives, he wrote: “Certainly it would be very disappointing if Sean felt unable to help on the devolution front, because of a disproportionate effect on his pocket.

“Perhaps the Prime Minister might want to hold a meeting with Sean when he’s next in London, or alternatively, give him a call in Marbella or Los Angeles, to assure him both that he is keen to have Sean’s help on the referendum and that we will be looking at the tax position, certainly with regard to the film industry.”

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