The Daily Mail Reporter article said:
Police chiefs have come under fire today for flying the rainbow flag for lesbians, gays and bisexuals outside its police stations - when they are forbidden to display the Union Jack.
The multi-coloured 'Freedom' flag adopted by the gay pride movement in the 1970's is now flying at Suffolk Police's Ipswich HQ and its stations at Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft.
The flags - which include the force's badge - are to mark lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history month.
But there was fierce criticism of the move after it was revealed that stations were not allowed, under force policy, to fly the Union Jack or the Cross of St George.
Inevitably, Richard Littlejohn mentioned this story for his column today. He added:
No one would mind that much, I imagine, if Chief Constable Ash didn’t also ban the flying of the Union Flag outside ‘his’ police stations — presumably on the grounds that it’s ‘racist’...
...he refuses to fly the Union Flag even on the Queen’s birthday — or any other special occasion, for that matter.
He has no idea what the 'grounds' are but thinks this is what Mail readers will want the reason to be.
But it's a big presumption because it seems the Mail's claim that the flags are 'banned' or 'forbidden' isn't true.
On ITV Anglia Tonight, a police spokesperson was asked about the accusation that these flags were not flying because they had been banned. She replied:
'This is not accurate. Both flags are flown from our headquarters.'
(Despite the Mail claiming the raising of the rainbow flag was met with 'fierce criticism', the Anglia Tonight reporter said 'most residents we spoke to supported the decision'.)
The view of the spokesperson seems to be backed up by the Suffolk Constabulary Policies & Procedures document on the Use and Maintenance of Police Buildings. It says:
11.1 Police Headquarters and other stations with facilities for raising flags will fly the Union Flag on the following dates and on any special occasion notified:
6 February Accession of Her Majesty The Queen
19 February Birthday of Prince Andrew
10 March Birthday of Prince Edward
21 April Birthday of Her Majesty The Queen
23 April St George's Day
So Littlejohn was wrong about the 'ban', wrong about the 'grounds' for the 'ban', and wrong to say the Union Flag doesn't fly on the Queen's Birthday.
Moreover, a reader who asked Suffolk Police about the 'ban' has forwarded their response to this blog. It says:
...we would like to clarify that Suffolk Police, like every other force in England and Wales, does hoist the Union and St George Cross flags on appropriate days of the year...
On other days, the force flag flies outside police stations and at force headquarters, but it is at the Chief Constable’s discretion as to when and if other flags are hoisted.
There has never been any ban on flying the Union Flag on Suffolk Constabulary buildings as has been reported.
So did the Mail check the story out with the police and ignore what they said? Or did they just not ask?