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Friday, 2 November, 2001, 15:04 GMT
Anger over BBC World poppy ban
Hearsay show their poppies
Poppy day was launched by pop band Hear'say
Veterans groups and Tory MPs have called on the BBC to scrap a rule stopping presenters on its international channel from wearing remembrance poppies on screen.

The BBC said its BBC World presenters could not wear the poppies on air because they are not widely recognisable abroad.

But the Royal British Legion insisted poppies were an internationally recognised symbol which all BBC presenters should be able to wear.

Gerald Howarth, Conservative MP for Aldershot, and vice-chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, described the ruling as "scandalous".


Even if it were to be unknown to the viewer, exactly what damage do they think it would do?

Lord Tebbit
The BBC said poppies were inappropriate for its world channel, but insisted it was still committed to events remembering those lost in the wars.

A statement said: "BBC World presenters have not worn poppies in the 10-year history of the channel.

"Presenters on other BBC channels in the UK have always worn poppies and will continue to do so."

It said all guests on BBC World were allowed to wear poppies and apologised to Evening Standard war correspondent Robert Fox, who was asked to remove his poppy before being interviewed.

They said the request made to Mr Fox was a mistake.

Dispute

Royal British Legion spokesman Jeremy Lillies said the BBC should reconsider its policy.

He said: "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.

"We would very much dispute the suggestion that it does not mean anything to people outside the UK. We believe the poppy is the internationally symbol of remembrance and we would ask BBC World to think again on this issue."

Tony Blair
Tony Blair shows his support for poppy day
Mr Howarth said: "The poppy is a mark of respect not only to our own war dead but also others who have died in war.

"This decision will anger a lot of people utterly needlessly."

Tory peer Lord Tebbit said: "I just regard it as quite extraordinary that they should think the symbol is unknown outside the United Kingdom.

"Even if it were to be unknown to the viewer, exactly what damage do they think it would do?"

The 2001 Poppy Day Appeal was launched by pop stars Hear'Say last month.

It marks the 80th year of the Royal British Legion, which provides support for ex-service personnel.

See also:

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BBC announces job cuts
30 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
MPs campaign to keep Jimmy Young
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