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Fact Check: London Fish & Chip Shop Was Allegedly Ordered To Remove 'Offensive' Union Flag Mural Due to Complaints

X account @benonwine
X account @benonwine

Claim:

A March 2024 X post accurately stated a local council ordered a London fish and chip shop to remove a Union Flag mural due to complaints it was offensive.

Rating:

Rating: Unproven
Rating: Unproven

On March 18, 2024, an account on X, formerly Twitter, uploaded an image of a fish and chip shop owner in London, U.K., standing in front of a mural painted on a wall next to his Golden Chippy store. The mural contained a painting of a humanoid fish holding a Union Flag (archived here).

Text added beneath the photo claimed the local council ordered the businessman to remove the mural after receiving complaints that the British flag caused offense.

It read: "AWARD WINNING FISH AND CHIP SHOP ORDERED TO TAKE DOWN UNION FLAG AFTER COMPLAINTS TO COUNCIL IT'S OFFENSIVE."

Snopes readers asked us to explore the veracity of the claim, which could be seen in similar posts elsewhere on X. Some news outlets also reported on the story.

Although the local authority reportedly told The Telegraph the mural was being investigated "following a number of complaints" made to councilors, the council issued a statement two days later, on March 18, 2024, saying the decision to order the mural's removal was completely unrelated to the use of the flag.

Royal Borough of Greenwich spokesperson: 'You may have seen several headlines over the weekend about a business in Greenwich.

'Whilst it's not always appropriate to comment on individual cases, contrary to reports this has nothing to do with the Union Flag or any of the painting's contents.

'The advert has been painted, without any permission, in a conservation area, close to a World Heritage Site. The Council is acting according to Government planning laws, as it would with any unauthorised advert.

'Any suggestions this is because of the Union Flag are disingenuous and untrue. The business owner is welcome to apply for advert consent in line with the conservation area he is in.'

The council spokesperson referred to the mural as an advertisement for the award-winning business and said it was painted without permission in a conservation area near a World Heritage Site.

Claims that the mural needed removing because it depicted the Union Flag were "disingenuous and untrue," and any other unauthorized advertisement in the area would be treated the same, the spokesperson added.

Although the council's statement said the removal order was unrelated to the mural containing the Union Flag, Snopes has not been able to confirm the nature of the complaints and therefore has rated the claim as "Unproven."

Snopes has approached Greenwich London Borough Council for comment and will update this article if it receives a response.

Sources:

Bodkin, Henry. 'Award-Winning Fish and Chip Shop Ordered to Take down Union Flag'. The Telegraph, 16 Mar. 2024. www.telegraph.co.uk, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2024/03/16/award-winning-fish-and-chip-shop-ordered-to-take-down-union/.

Greenwich, Royal Borough of. Statement on Unauthorised Advert in Greenwich Town Centre. https://www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/news/article/2520/statement_on_unauthorised_advert_in_greenwich_town_centre. Accessed 19 Mar. 2024.

Grennan, Dan. 'Fish and Chip Shop Ordered to Remove Union Flag Mural by Council'. Mail Online, 17 Mar. 2024, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-13206731/fish-chip-shop-ordered-remove-Union-flag-mural.html.

King, Jon. 'Killjoy Council Tells Chip Shop to Axe Mural Showing Union Flag — in London'. Express.Co.Uk, 17 Mar. 2024, https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1878593/greenwich-council-chip-shop-union-jack.