02 December 2008
By Maggie Millar
AN APOLOGY has been issued from Fife Council to a father-of-six who was ordered to take down a “racist” Saltire flag.
But gobsmacked Paul Steele from East Wemyss maintains he would never have obeyed the council – even when they threatened him with legal action.
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“It was just as he was about to leave that an inspector told me to take down the Saltire because it was completely racist and they’d had complaints,” explained Mr Steele.
“It’s been there for a year and I’ve had no complaints, even from English neighbours.”
The Saltire is pinned up on the inside of Mr Steele’s livingroom window in McDuff Street.
The Saltire at Paul Steele’s East Wemyss home.
Mr Steele said: “If it was a Swastika I’d understand it, but not a Scottish flag in my own country!
“They told me if I didn’t take it down they would take legal steps to take it down.
“The flag’s staying where it is ” Afterwards, SNP Councillor David Alexander said he was “outraged by anybody being told to take the Scottish flag down for any reason.”
He commented: “There were issues to be dealt with but that was overstepping the mark.
“Why would anyone think they had the right to ask to take a flag down from the window?”
On Wednesday, following a detailed investigation, Fife Council issued an unreserved apology to Mr Steele for the embarrassment caused to him.
The Scottish Saltire - Blatantly related to…Scotland!
“The view of Fife Council is that displaying the Saltire – or any other national flag– at home is never a racist gesture,” said Jim Findlay, head of local services north for Fife Council.
“Our staff often work in very difficult and demanding circumstances, however, there was a serious error in the way we handled this issue.
“Our staff will be properly briefed to ensure it is not repeated again in the future.”
Mr Steele said he was happy the situation had been resolved He added: “I told one of the guys that day I could always put it up on my roof and he just laughed.
“He said it was political correctness gone crazy and he was right.”