Lord Rogan: We still do not have clarity on NIO royal portrait saga

The gay rainbow flag flying at NIO Stormont House in Belfast to mark the city's Pride Festival in August 2017. It is reported that latterly royal portraits were removed from inside the premises, after a complaint. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The gay rainbow flag flying at NIO Stormont House in Belfast to mark the city's Pride Festival in August 2017. It is reported that latterly royal portraits were removed from inside the premises, after a complaint. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
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I have received further answers to questions I tabled in the House of Lords about the removal of royal portraits from the NIO (the questions and answers are below) and must admit that I am little further forward when it comes to understanding exactly what has gone on.

I am particularly intrigued by the following answer received from Lord Young of Cookham: ‘Civil Servants are free to raise concerns about any issue and should follow their departmental procedures to resolve disputes and grievances. Compensation payments are not routinely paid as part of this process.’

Letter to the editor

Letter to the editor

The key word for me there is ‘routinely.’ That line does not rule out the possibility that such a payment was made in this instance.

The government would be doing itself a favour by answering questions clearly and concisely and telling the whole truth rather than seemingly kicking for touch in the hope that a partial release of information will be enough.

This tactic has completely failed and the mishandling of this issue resulted in even greater scrutiny and publicity that might otherwise have been the case.

It is time the Royal Portraits were restored and the truth was told about who decided to remove them, on what grounds and whether or not any compensation was paid in this instance.

I repeat what I said last week. This situation should never have been allowed to happen and is the result of meek and weak leadership within the NIO which must now be brought to a swift end.

Lord Rogan, House of Lords

The replies Lord Rogan received:

Lord Young of Cookham, the Cabinet Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL17540):

Question: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what procedures are in place to process any complaint about the display of images of the Royal Family in publicly funded buildings; and what steps they take to determine the level of any compensation paid as a result of such a complaint. (HL17540) Tabled on: 25 July 2019

This question was grouped with the following question(s) for answer:

1. To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Duncan of Springbank on 15 July (HL17173, HL17174, and HL17175), what assessment they have made of the displaying of portraits of the Royal Family in publicly funded buildings in all four nations of the UK. (HL17480) Tabled on: 24 July 2019

Answer: Lord Young of Cookham: No further assessment has been made of how and where portraits of the Royal Family are displayed across the UK. Civil Servants are free to raise concerns about any issue and should follow their departmental procedures to resolve disputes and grievances. Compensation payments are not routinely paid as part of this process.

Date and time of answer: 06 Aug 2019 at 14:55.