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No apology over torch flag grab

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: May 30, 2012

Andrew Ball's Cornish flag is snatched away by one of the Metropolitan policemen flanking the torchbearers.

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OLYMPIC bosses have failed to apologise after a policeman grabbed a St Piran's flag from the young Cornishman carrying the torch over the Tamar.

Liberal Democrat MP Dan Rogerson, who represents North Cornwall, urged them to say sorry for removing 20-year-old Andrew Ball's flag.

It was given to him by BBC Radio Cornwall's Michael Taylor, and initially carried without incident.

Mr Rogerson said a video posted online appeared to show a member of the Metropolitan Police's torch security team receiving instructions through his earpiece before confiscating the flag as Mr Ball approached the border – set in AD936 by King Athelstan at the Tamar's eastern bank.

Mr Rogerson has written to Lord Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and himself a former Cornish MP, to ask for an apology.

He also raised the issue in Parliament and said the incident had sparked anger across the Duchy.

"To many in Cornwall, this sends out a signal that English, Welsh or Scottish identity is fine, but that Cornish identity is not to be accepted by the London-based Olympic authorities," he said. "Andrew Ball and the people of Cornwall deserve an apology."

However, a London 2012 spokesman said torchbearers were required to carry the Olympic flame in the official uniform only.

"We would ask that people respect that for the 300 metres they carry the flame," he said.

"Torchbearers are welcome to do any pre- or post-run interviews with their flags; it's just the run with the flame that we ask is undertaken in the uniform. Flags of all types waved by people along the route are very, very welcome."

Sheryll Murray, Conservative MP for South East Cornwall, said she was in Saltash standing at the bridge but did not see the incident.

"Having watched the video, I'm very disappointed that this has occurred and would like a full explanation," she said.

"Being Cornish, I'm very proud of our flag and it's good to see it mixed in with the many Union Jacks showing what a great, united nation we are."

Mebyon Kernow councillor John Gillingham, who publicised the incident online, said he agreed with Mr Rogerson, and hoped Lord Coe would apologise promptly.

"The UK Government has claimed in the past that not providing the same level of protection to the Cornish as they do for others does not result in Cornish culture or identity losing out," he said.

"This has been shown several times now to be false.

"Cornwall Council is apparently working hard to try and bring this about by gaining the Cornish people protection under the Framework Convention for National Minorities; I say it can't come soon enough."

To view the video, visit http://bit.ly/KfDJak

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  • Kevrenor  |  May 31 2012, 1:57AM

    Sandy Shaw (not the singer) "London Olympics relay event would have started in Devon and not even gone to Cornwall at all if Cornwall was truly independent from England. Same would apply to Scotland too of course if they vote for independence" So why is it going to the Republic of Ireland then Sandy? Those arrows do appear by magic don't they!?

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  • Doitdreckley  |  May 30 2012, 8:19PM

    Three key questions that need to be answered. What was wispered into the officer's ear and on whose order? Any other examples of this elsewhere?

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  • buzzzz  |  May 30 2012, 7:28PM

    Millions die from starvation all over the world each year and you are moaning about a flag. Get your priorities right and get over it.

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  • goliath_david  |  May 30 2012, 7:14PM

    Typical bully boy tactics! First they bundle over a gent trying to get past to take a picture, and not apologise, and then this, just as it was leaving the county to go to Devon. It's all about the sponsors and nothing about community!

  • kimmyp  |  May 30 2012, 2:09PM

    Shame Dan Rogerson doesn't put as much energy in sorting out his own home town. Bodmin, top ranking unemployment, worst air quality has one of the most congested roads in cornwall and described as Chav Centre of Cornwall.

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  • homerjay  |  May 30 2012, 1:23PM

    Wow! A load of red and green arrows appear as if by magic! What an insult to the people of Cornwall who received the torch with such enthusiasm. An event that celebrates the pinnacle of human fitness and endeavour sponsored by gut rotting fizzy rubbish and the flag is confiscated? Pathetic.

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  • tylertoby  |  May 30 2012, 1:07PM

    NO surprise I hear they are very strict about advertising and politics around the Olympics nothing to do with what the nationalists would like to conspire this to be, the police had no idea what the flag was just like everyone else, rules is rules

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  • gwenonek  |  May 30 2012, 12:55PM

    Good to see a Liberal Democrat MP, a Conservative MP and a Mebyon Kernow Councillor join to condemn this imperialistic act.

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  • Big_Ger  |  May 30 2012, 12:41PM

    Dan, Dan, the complaining man.

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  • sandyshaw  |  May 30 2012, 12:34PM

    The government were not in charge of the Olympic relay don't bring them into it. It's about the Olympic committee which had their pre set rules for the event and how they want it done, if you don't like it don't participate. I suggest Cornwall puts it's name down on the waiting list for hosts of the Olympics and waits it's fair turn. But that will have to wait until Cornwall becomes an independent country. People are being a bit off with this as if they get what they want then the London Olympics relay event would have started in Devon and not even gone to Cornwall at all if Cornwall was truly independent from England. Same would apply to Scotland too of course if they vote for independence. You can't have it all!

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