Daily Mail apologises to Nicola Sturgeon for flag story

Written by Jenni Davidson on 26 January 2018 in News

The Daily Mail had accused Nicola Sturgeon of banning the flying of the Union Jack

Union Jack and Saltire - Image credit: PA Images

The Daily Mail has been forced to issue an apology for a news story claiming that Nicola Sturgeon has banned the flying of the Union Jack on the Queen’s birthday.

The newspaper had claimed that the First Minister had changed the rules around flying the union flag from public buildings in Scotland to limit it to one day per year on Remembrance Day.

However, the change had actually been made in 2010 under former first minister Alex Salmond.

In a blog earlier this week, Salmond confirmed that he had made the change from the Union Jack to the Lion Rampant, the royal flag of Scotland, for the Queen’s birthday and other significant royal occasions following a conversation with the Queen at Balmoral in 2009.

Salmond said: “It seemed obvious to me that the appropriate flag to be flown on the occasion of royal birthdays is the Royal Standard or The Lion Rampant.

“The only people who can order that to be done are the Queen herself and the First Minister as her representative.

“I remember the occasion very well. Her Majesty asked me if The Lion Rampant was a popular flag in Scotland.

“I was able to assure her that it was and indeed much beloved of Scottish football and rugby fans.

“Thus I brought the new policy into effect and left the union flag flying as appropriate, at armed forces day and Remembrance Sunday.”

Salmond also mischievously suggested that those who objected the use of the royal flag instead of the union flag perhaps harboured “closet republican tendencies”.

The guidance on which flags should be flown in Scotland on different occasions was updated by civil servants in December 2017 to reflect the practice that was already in place, but Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that she was not involved in that decision.

The Daily Mail apology said: “We accept that the policy did not change under Nicola Sturgeon and that she had no involvement in the Protocol and Honours Team updating the operational guidance on flag flying for 2018.

“We apologise to Ms Sturgeon for the contrary impression given.”

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