Regulator defends putting poppy on Twitter logo after eyebrows raised

The Charity Commission says the poppy is 'a national symbol' after users on social media question the move

The Charity Commission has defended its decision to display a remembrance poppy online after its impartiality was questioned on social media.

Users noticed a poppy had appeared in the regulator’s Twitter avatar and some in the sector questioned whether it was appropriate to display a symbol so closely associated with the Royal British Legion and its annual fundraising campaign.

The Poppy Appeal is intended to encourage people to remember members of the armed forces who have died in combat, and to raise money to support serving members, veterans and their families. 

In 2018 the appeal raised a record £55m, distributed 47 million poppies and pin badges, and ran about 500 community events.

The charity consultant and trustee Richard Sved said on Twitter that he did not believe the Charity Commission should have adopted the poppy symbol. 

“Nothing against the Royal British Legion, but I don't think a regulator should be doing this,” he said. 

David Lacey, who is director of fundraising at The Eve Appeal but was tweeting in a personal capacity, said he did not think it felt overly impartial, regardless of the lens it was viewed through.

Other Twitter users were surprised, and wondered whether the regulator intended to show support for other campaigns in future.

But user Adrienne Williams disagreed, saying: “Wearing a poppy is an act of remembrance, not a symbol of support for a charity. Different to Marie Curie daffodils or Alzheimer’s Forget me not. It has another meaning than the charity which supports it. The RBL royal charter makes it national custodian of remembrance.”

The regulator said that the poppy was a historical symbol of remembrance that had been associated with various charitable and non-charitable endeavours since the First World War.

The regulator, which has used the poppy symbol in previous years, said it did not endorse any one charity.

A spokesperson for the Charity Commission said: “The poppy is a national symbol to remember those who lost their lives in war; it is entirely appropriate, along with other government departments, that we remember that sacrifice with respect.”

The commission also highlighted advice it had previously issued on how to give safely to registered charities around Remembrance Sunday, recognising that this is a time of increased giving to various causes that support the welfare of serving and former members of the armed forces.

- This article was updated on 5 November 2020 to reflect the fact that the Charity Commission had previously used the poppy symbol. 

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