The Scottish Daily Mail has apologised to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon over a story claiming she had “decreed” that the Union Jack should no longer be flown from public buildings on the Queen’s birthday.
The story ran in the newspaper on Wednesday and also appeared in the Telegraph, which said Sturgeon had “ordered” the change to protocol, and the Daily Express, which said the politician had “snubbed” the Queen.
Sturgeon posted a picture of an apology that appeared in the Mail today, tweeting: “The Daily Mail has admitted that its ridiculous story about me and flags was utterly false and issued a full apology.”
The Telegraph and Express appear to have yet to correct the error.
Sturgeon added: “Rigorous scrutiny of politicians by a free media is fundamental to our democracy.
“But when newspapers publish blatant untruths they do a disservice, not just to those they defame, but to the integrity of their trade.
“That’s why it’s important to challenge falsehoods.”
The decision not to fly the Union Jack from Scottish public buildings had actually been made under Sturgeon’s predecessor Alex Salmond, but was updated in December by the Protocol and Honours Team.
Sturgeon herself had not ordered the change to protocol.
The Mail said in its apology (in full below) that “the policy did not change under Nicola Sturgeon”, adding: “We apologise to Ms Sturgeon for the contrary impression given.”
The full apology reads: “In our January 24 article headlined ‘Sturgeon bans Union Flag for Queen’s birthday’, we reported that Nicola Sturgeon decreed that the Union Flag should not be flown over dozens of public buildings on the Queen’s birthday and other royal events.
“We are happy to clarify that the decision to change the policy on flag flying was taken and implemented by former First Minister Alex Salmond in 2010. The Protocol and Honours Team updated operational guidance in December 2017.
“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.”
Picture: Reuters/Russell Cheyne