Councils hot and cross over Telegraph's bun ban story

Local councils are feeling hot and cross after The Sunday Telegraph reported that some schools would not be serving hot cross buns this Easter because they would offend Muslim pupils.

City of York Council is to demand a correction from the paper and other national dailies that followed up the story. Council press manager Neil Sterio said: “The idea has deeply offended Muslims themselves.

“City of York Council is shocked that a reputable newspaper has misled its readers in this way and twisted the facts to suit its story. I understand the other councils quoted in the story are also livid.”

Sterio e-mailed a number of broadcasters and national newspapers on Monday refuting the story. His e-mail stated: “This is totally untrue and we now expect any organisations which have published the ban as a fact to issue a correction in subsequent editions.”

He had e-mailed a statement to all national news organisations the day before, stating: “A reporter from The Sunday Telegraph rang the press office last week to ask if we were serving hot cross buns. To say we are not serving hot cross buns is true but no policy decision has been taken on this.

“In fact, Easter will be marked in city schools with children being offered a roast turkey meal followed by a sweet comprising an Easter ‘nest’ with mini chocolate eggs.

“The reporter from The Sunday Telegraph was informed of this and was also informed that there was no particular reason why hot cross buns weren’t being served this year.”

Two councils – Tower Hamlets and Liverpool – were the main thrust of The Sunday Telegraph’s story and the newspaper said it contacted the press offices of both councils and spoke to catering officials.

Its mention of York council came in a paragraph that named other councils only as not serving hot cross buns. However, the caption to the accompanying picture does name York as an area where buns are off the menu “in case the cross upsets non-Christians”.

Deputy news editor Sebastian Hamilton told Press Gazette he had received no direct communication from York or other councils. “The reference to York comes in the context of a paragraph about councils which don’t serve hot cross buns for other reasons,” he said. “We had a message from York which said they wouldn’t be serving hot cross buns. We did call them back to try to get greater clarification but we did not hear back from them.

“We stand by the story but if we get a complaint, we will of course take that seriously.”

By Jean Morgan

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