PRESS regulator Ipso has not upheld a complaint by the Scottish Government over a Scottish Daily Express story about the flying of the Union flag.

In January this year, the Express accused the government of "snubbing the Queen" by reducing the number of times the Union flag would be flown from Scottish Government buildings each year from 15 to one. 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hit back, pointing out that the change was made by predecessor Alex Salmond, who said he had done so in consultation with the Queen.

The published guidance papers were updated in 2018, and that was the reason for the appearance of a change in policy, Sturgeon said.

The Scottish Daily Mail, which also ran the story, issued a correction and apology over the "flaggate" row claims at the time.

The Scottish Government complained to Ipso over the Express's coverage of the story, saying it had breached the accuracy clause of the Editors' code.

The first article subject to the complaint was a report headlined "SNP flag snub to Royal Family", and the second an editorial, "SNP show true colours".

In the complaint, the Scottish Government said there was no "snub", "as the online flag guidelines made clear that the Royal Banner is flown at Scottish Government on Royal occasions, by Royal Assent".

They also argued that to say "rules and regulations" was inaccurate, as it was merely guidance for the non-Scottish Government buildings.

Finding in favour of the Express, Ipso said: "It was accepted that the publicly available guidance on flag flying had been updated in 2018. The Committee acknowledged that this document would not change practice at St Andrew’s House, where the Royal Banner had flown on these 14 royal anniversaries or birthdays from 2010.

"However, a number of other buildings who followed the government’s guidance each year, had confirmed that they would now fly the Union flag on just one day in 2018, compared with fifteen in 2017.

"Where the government’s official guidance suggested that the Saltire be flown on 14 days that were previously reserved for the Union flag, the newspaper had accurately reported this change.

"The newspaper was entitled to characterise this change as a 'snub' to the Royal Family, where the basis for this characterisation was made clear."

The statement added: "The 2018 guidance advised buildings to fly the Saltire on these fourteen occasions, rather than the Union flag, in contrast to the guidance issued the previous year. In these circumstances it was accurate to refer to this document as new.

"The document had also referred to the guidance as “rules for hoisting flags on buildings of the Scottish Government.” In these circumstances, using the terms rules, guidance and regulations interchangeably did not significantly misrepresent the document."