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It's a heraldic jungle out there

A LYON'S GROWL could cost schools thousands of pounds and, technically, even the confiscation of blazers, sweatshirts and polos. Anything, in fact, which carries an illegal school badge.

The Lord Lyon, Sir Malcolm Innes of Edingight, has ruled that Milngavie primary has contravened the Lyon King of Arms Act 1672 by failing to register its badge, classed as a coat of arms.

His ruling follows a wrangle about political correctness last August over the headteacher's plans to devise a new motto and badge. Christine Reid fancied changing the 125-year-old motto of "Each aids the other". The connotation of "aids" caused a stir.

By fair means or foul, word reached the Lord Lyon about the illegality of the badge.

Now a subsequent check by East Dunbartonshire has revealed only three of its schools are on the right side of the law of the Lyon. At pound;800 to registr every badge, school budgets could be easily consumed by the Lyon.

But a spokeswoman for the Court of the Lord Lyon this week offered some early Christmas cheer. "We're not out to get anyone, and we're not out to penalise primary schools," she said.

Schools should send their badges and mottos to the Lord Lyon for checking. "We can help them and advise whether they are armorial or not," she continued.

Many schools have already paid the statutory fee of pound;800 to register their shield of arms in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland, established under Charles II. No one can use the same design if it is registered.

Schools are trapped if their badge and motto are classed as "a heraldic device within an outline". A lion rampant or cross in a design is likely to qualify, but words or initials within a shield shape would not.

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