Palace turns to watchdog over claims Queen voiced Eurosceptic views to Clegg

The Sun report was based on an alleged conversation between The Queen and Nick Clegg

The Sun report was based on an alleged conversation between The Queen and Nick Clegg

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SHEFFIELD HALLAM MP Nick Clegg has dismissed reports that the Queen expressed Eurosceptic views to him during his time as Deputy Prime Minister.

Buckingham Palace has lodged a complaint with the press watchdog after a national newspaper claimed the conversation at a lunch suggested the Queen wants Britain to leave the European Union.

Whitehall’s top civil servant, Sir Jeremy Heywood, has also been asked to consider whethevents at a Privy Council have been leaked which would be a breach of its privacy rules.

The Sun’s front page carried to headline “Queen backs Brexit” and the newspaper quoted a source who said people who heard the lunch conversation involving Mr Clegg “were left in no doubt at all about the Queen’s views on European integration”.

Asked about the occasion yesterday, Mr Clegg said: “It is not true. I have certainly, absolutely no recollection of a conversation like that, which I suspect I would have remembered if it had taken place.”

And he added: “I just think it’s wrong that people who want to take us out of the European Union to now try and drag the Queen for their own purposes into this European referendum debate.”

It is the first occasion Buckingham Palace has lodged an official complaint since the creation of the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “We can confirm that we have this morning written to the chairman of the Independent Press Standards Organisation to register a complaint about the front page story in today’s Sun newspaper.

“The complaint relates to Clause One of the Editors’ Code of Practice.”

Clause one in the code relates to accuracy and states: “The press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.”

It requires that “significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and - where appropriate - an apology published”.

Constitutional expert Professor Vernon Bognador said it was “absurd” that the Queen would break from her tradition of political impartiality after decades as monarch.

“I’m very dubious. The Queen speaks and acts on the advice of ministers,” Prof Bognador said.

He added: “The Queen’s been on the throne for over 60 years. She’s acted constitutionally throughout. It’s absurd to suggest that now she would break from that tradition.”

There is heightened sensitivity around suggestions the Queen may interfere in the EU referendum after comment she made on the ev of the Scottish independence vote.

Four days before the vote she told a well-wisher: “Well, I hope people will think very carefully about the future.”

Buckingham Palace denied it was intended to sway opinion.

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