Page last updated at 21:14 GMT, Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Poppy ban row firm makes U-turn

Wigan Council veterans who have been upset by the ban
The ban caused "a huge amount of upset" among local veterans

A toiletries store chain which banned its staff from wearing poppies has reversed the policy after protests.

Bodycare UK's stance emerged after an employee in Wigan was ordered to remove the charity emblem from her uniform.

Wigan Borough Veterans' Council said it was a "disgrace" the Lancashire-based company did not allow staff to support fallen and injured soldiers.

But the firm has now reversed its stance and apologised after talks with Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle.

In a statement, the company said that its staff were banned from wearing all badges which could portray personal beliefs to avoid offending other staff or customers.

Company apology

"Our understanding has always been that, for this policy to be valid, it has to apply to all badges or emblems, including poppies," a spokesman said.

Mr Hoyle assured managers that the wearing of the poppy was "unique" and would not be seen as a relaxation of the policy, he added.

"Having received that assurance, we are happy to change our policy and allow our members of staff to continue wearing their poppies.

"As our policy has always been intended to ensure that we do not cause offence to anyone, we hope we have not done so and sincerely apologise if that has been its unintended effect."

Hopefully the shop will now not only let them wear them, but they will actually let us put a box in and sell them
Des White
Wigan Borough Veterans' Council

Mr Hoyle told the BBC it was an emotive issue and that the company should be commended for changing the policy.

"Common sense has prevailed and quite rightly they're allowing their staff to wear the poppy," he said.

"I think we must congratulate the company for reversing their stance."

Des White, chairman of the veterans' council, said he was "over the moon" with the reversal of policy.

He said: "I'm glad that common sense eventually rules. It's nice to know they are now supporting the veterans.

"It caused a huge amount of upset - our phone was ringing constantly all day from members.

"Hopefully the shop will now not only let them wear them, but they will actually let us put a box in and sell them."

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