Published On: Wed, Nov 8th, 2017

Fury as BBC forces Have I Got News For You guest to ditch Remembrance poppy

Journalist Quentin Letts, 54, said he turned up for the panel quiz last week wearing a poppy but was “asked to remove it”.

The move sparked outrage from audience members who initially hit out Mr Letts for not wearing the poppy in messages after the show.

It was later revealed he was told to remove with a BBC spokesman adding that “traditionally” poppies are worn on the TV show “on the week of Remembrance Sunday”.

The Royal British Legion has said they “oppose those who attempt to coerce or criticise people” who choose to wear poppies.

Mr Letts, 54, told MailOnline: “I have had messages from some viewers who were cross that I did not wear a poppy for the show.

“I felt I should explain myself. I am afraid I was a bit wet and in the short moments before going on yielded to the request.”

Christopher Hope, a political journalist, tweeted: “Outrageous! BBC’s Have I Got News For You asked journalist Quentin Letts to remove his poppy before last week’s programme. Why?”

Judith Hughes also said: “That is hypocritical of the BBC. To think they host the Albert Hall poppy remembrance service. Perhaps it should go to ITV?”

Meanwhile, Laura Cosby‏ commented: “He should have left the programme, I know I would have! How dare they tell someone to remove their poppy.”

A spokesman for the Royal British Legion said: “We are thankful for every poppy worn, every shop that allows poppy collections, and every employer that permits the poppy to be displayed – but we never insist upon these things or claim as our right.

“To do otherwise would be contrary to the spirit of Remembrance and all that the poppy stands for.

“We take the view that the poppy represents the sacrifices and contributions our Armed Forces community have made in the defence of freedom, and so the decision to wear it must be a matter of personal choice.

“If the poppy became compulsory it would lose its meaning and significance.

“The Legion will always defend the rights of individuals who choose not to wear a poppy, and we oppose those who attempt to coerce or criticise people who make this personal choice.”

A BBC spokesman said: “Traditionally poppies are worn by the Have I Got News For You host and panellists on the week of Remembrance Sunday.

“Everyone on the show will be wearing poppies this coming Friday as a mark of respect as they always have done.”

The poppy was adopted in 1921 as a universal symbol to remember soldiers who die in World War 1.

It is believed to have become a symbol of the deadly conflict from the ‘In Flanders Fields’ poem written by Canadian doctor Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae which begins “In Flanders fields the poppies blow”.

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