HOLLYWOOD met politics yesterday as mourners came together for the funeral of Scottish union stalwart Alex Kitson.

Included in messages of condolence for the 75-year-old ex-STUC president was an emotional farewell from actor Sean Connery - who delivered milk with Mr Kitson before finding fame.

Mr Kitson, who died at the weekend after a battle against cancer was a dominant figure in Scottish unions who served as chairman of the National Labour Party.

Mr Kitson and Mr Connery became friends when the actor was starting out delivering milk on an Edinburgh round and Mr Kitson was his union representative on the Scottish Horse and Motorman's Association.

Yesterday in a message read out to the congregation at Warriston Crematorium, Edinburgh, Mr Connery recalled how Mr Kitson stunned him recently by producing his old union card at a gala dinner honouring the star.

The actor was at a dinner to receive the Freedom of Edinburgh when Mr Kitson produced his old union card, under the name Thomas Connery and told him he owed the union money.

In his message Mr Connery, who is filming the Avengers in London, apologised for not attending the funeral in person, but said work commitments kept him away.

He said: ''My dear Alex, my most sincere apologies for not being present today to say my farewells. Our last meeting was when I was given the freedom of Edinburgh and I cherish and retain the splendid memory of your humour and warmth. No-one knows more than me of your tough struggle through those early years, goodbye my friend.''

A packed chapel of about 400 mourners heard how Mr Kitson, who was from the West Lothian village of Kirk-newton, shocked the film star at the dinner by raking up his union past.

Edinburgh Lord Provost Eric Milligan said: ''He produced this card under the name Thomas Connery and said the union had been looking for him and assumed he had been working elsewhere under an assumed name.''

During the 50-minute service Mr Kitson's favourite jazz musician, Kenny Ball, played the tune Midnight in Moscow on the trumpet before singer Bill McCue sang Bonnie Scotland, I Adore Thee.

Former miners' leader Mick McGahey was joined by former shipbuilders' leader Jimmy Reid, Scottish Office minister Mal-colm Chisholm and STUC general secretary Campbell Christie.

Mr Kitson's wife, Anne, died only weeks ago and he leaves behind two daughters - Joyce and Irene.