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Store U-turn on Ulster notes after Nolan raises a rumpus

By Matthew McCreary

High Street store WH Smith has been forced to make a U-turn over accepting Northern Irish banknotes at one of its English stores, after local radio DJ Stephen Nolan kicked up a fuss.

The well-known shock jock was so incensed that the stationery giant's store at the BBC Television Centre buildings at Shepherd’s Bush in London would not accept Northern Irish or Scottish notes above £10 that he vented his wrath on a phone-in show on Five Live last week.

The award-winning radio personality was running a debate about what it meant to be part of the UK as he stood in for regular presenter Victoria Derbyshire.

We’re talking about being part of the UK, so why is it some parts of the UK don’t accept Northern Irish or Scottish Sterling?

“I walked downstairs into the WH Smith, in the BBC, and they’ve got a sign up all of a sudden, saying ‘with immediate effect, we are not accepting Northern Irish or Scottish tender above £10’,” he told listeners.

“What’s given WH Smith the right to do that, for goodness sake?

“We’re talking about being part of the UK, so why is it some parts of the UK don’t accept Northern Irish or Scottish Sterling?”

Nolan also read out an email from a Scottish listener who said he regularly had trouble passing Scottish notes in London.

WH Smith have described the matter as “a misunderstanding” and said that the sign had been removed from the BBC store.

“I can confirm that our High Street and Travel stores do accept Northern Irish bank notes,” a spokesperson for the company said.

“There appears to have been a misunderstanding on a local level at our store in the BBC Television Centre and the sign has been removed with immediate effect.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

According to the Bank of England, Northern Ireland and Scotland bank notes are not considered legal tender, although the term legal tender does not in itself govern the acceptability of banknotes in transactions.

A spokesman for HM Treasury said that moves are under way to ensure notes from Northern Ireland and Scotland have the same standing in England as Bank of England notes.

Belfast Telegraph

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