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KNIGHTHOOD FOR CONNERY?

A British newspaper said on Tuesday that former James Bond star and Scottish Nationalist supporter Sean Connery would be knighted in the traditional New Year's honors list.

Prime Minister Tony Blair's office declined comment on the report in the Daily Mail newspaper. It said the actor was to become Sir Sean after a change of heart by Blair's Labor government, which had previously denied him the award because of his support for the Scottish National Party.

Two years ago Connery -- the first actor to play fictional British spy Bond -- was at the center of a bitter political row after it was widely reported that Labor had blocked plans to award him a knighthood.

Connery is a high-profile supporter of the Scottish National Party, now the official opposition in the Scottish parliament and a campaigner for an independent Scotland.

The Daily Mail said the Honors List would also include knighthoods for entrepreneur Richard Branson and comedian Norman Wisdom.

The list, which is drawn up by the government and the awards made by Queen Elizabeth, is usually a closely guarded secret until its publication.

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