The BBC admitted yesterday that presenters on its international news channel, BBC World, are not allowed to wear remembrance poppies.

BBC World said the symbol, worn in memory of the war dead, was not recognised widely abroad and was therefore inappropriate.

The statement followed complaints by Robert Fox, a London Evening Standard correspondent, that he had been asked to remove his poppy before appearing on a BBC World programme.

Mr Fox told his paper yesterday: "It seems you can wear a poppy for a domestic audience, but not for an international one, which looks like an insane example of political correctness.

"I didn’t have a row, but I said I objected strongly for personal reasons. Both my grandfathers served in the Great War and I would like some of the people who fell quite close to me in the Falklands to be remembered:’

The BBC said that its policy applied only to presenters, and that guests were allowed to wear poppies if they wished. It would apologise to Mr Fox. Jeremy Lillies, a spokesman for the Royal British Legion, insisted that the poppy was internationally recognised and he urged BBC World to reconsider its policy.

"We distribute poppies to many countries throughout the world, including most of Europe, virtually all the Commonwealth, the United States and countries in the Middle East," he said.

The poppy day appeal marks the 80th year of the Royal British Legion, which provides support for ex-service personnel.

Gerald Howarth, Conservative MP for Aldershot and vice-chairman of the Commons defence committee, said the decision was "scandalous’.

"They are not the world broadcasting corporation, they are the British Broadcasting Corporation and the idea that presenters should not wear poppies is as daft as the British Airways’ decision to remove the union flag from their aeroplanes. BA had the sense to reverse that ridiculous policy and the BBC shoulSi do the same." The BBC said: "While some people abroad will understand the significance of the poppy, many will not.

"BBC World presenters have not worn poppies in the 10-year history of the channel. Presenters on other BBC chaznels have always worn poppies and will continue to do so."

The BBC insisted it was committed to marking the period of remembrance. It will cover live the remembrance festival at the Royal Albert Hall and the act of remembrance at the Cenotaph. Both would be reported on BBC World.

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from the Guardian 3 November 2001

BBC in row over ban on poppies
by Matt Wells, Media Correspondent

The BBC admitted yesterday that presenters on its international news channel, BBC World, are not allowed to wear remembrance poppies.

BBC World said the symbol, worn in memory of the war dead, was not recognised widely abroad and was therefore inappropriate.

The statement followed complaints by Robert Fox, a London Evening Standard correspondent, that he had been asked to remove his poppy before appearing on a BBC World programme.

Mr Fox told his paper yesterday: "It seems you can wear a poppy for a domestic audience, but not for an international one, which looks like an insane example of political correctness.

"I didn’t have a row, but I said I objected strongly for personal reasons. Both my grandfathers served in the Great War and I would like some of the people who fell quite close to me in the Falklands to be remembered:’

The BBC said that its policy applied only to presenters, and that guests were allowed to wear poppies if they wished. It would apologise to Mr Fox. Jeremy Lillies, a spokesman for the Royal British Legion, insisted that the poppy was internationally recognised and he urged BBC World to reconsider its policy.

"We distribute poppies to many countries throughout the world, including most of Europe, virtually all the Commonwealth, the United States and countries in the Middle East," he said.

The poppy day appeal marks the 80th year of the Royal British Legion, which provides support for ex-service personnel.

Gerald Howarth, Conservative MP for Aldershot and vice-chairman of the Commons defence committee, said the decision was "scandalous’.

"They are not the world broadcasting corporation, they are the British Broadcasting Corporation and the idea that presenters should not wear poppies is as daft as the British Airways’ decision to remove the union flag from their aeroplanes. BA had the sense to reverse that ridiculous policy and the BBC should do the same." The BBC said: "While some people abroad will understand the significance of the poppy, many will not.

"BBC World presenters have not worn poppies in the 10-year history of the channel. Presenters on other BBC channels have always worn poppies and will continue to do so."

The BBC insisted it was committed to marking the period of remembrance. It will cover live the remembrance festival at the Royal Albert Hall and the act of remembrance at the Cenotaph. Both would be reported on BBC World.

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