THE Scottish Government has demanded an apology from newspapers who published "nonsense" claims about Union flags on Wednesday.

The Daily Mail, Daily Express and Telegraph published claims that Nicola Sturgeon had reduced the number of occasions that the Union flag could be flown from Government buildings.

However the story was quickly revealed to be incorrect. The changes being described were brought into force eight years ago and with the backing of the Queen.

READ MORE: Daily Mail apologises to Nicola Sturgeon over incorrect Union flag story

Now the Government has given the three newspapers responsible 28 days to issue an apology. Failure to comply will mean the case goes to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), the industry regulator.

Part of the complaint centres on the claim that Sturgeon was responsible for the change.

The last time the Government made such a move was following the "Frenchgate" incident in 2015, when claims against the First Minister from a discredited memo were published.

The demand for an apology follows the Tories lining up to accuse the SNP leader of being a petty flag obsessed nationalist, and demanded that she hoist the Union flag and learn to be more patriotic about the UK.

The Scottish Government quickly rebuked the claims, stating all that had changed recently was that the practice informally agreed between the Monarch and former First Minister Alex Salmond has been formalised, with new written guidance prepared by a civil servant.

Before 2010, there were 15 occasions when the Union flag had been hoisted at key official and heritage sites, generally to mark royal birthdays and anniversaries.

That was changed just under eight years ago, so that it’s now only used on Remembrance Sunday, and the Lion Rampant used for the royal occasions instead.