The Government has been accused of showing ‘total disrespect’ to British troops who died in the Falklands War after calling the islands by their Argentinian name.
The Home Office, the NHS and tax officials at HMRC all used the incendiary name the ‘Malvinas’ on official websites. Furious islanders and war veterans last night forced the departments to issue apologies.
Last night Simon Weston, who suffered extensive burns in the 1982 conflict that claimed the lives of 255 British troops, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘If it is a mistake, this is a very stupid and crass mistake.
Soldiers who fought in the 1982 Falklands War reacted with fury after it emerged government documents referred to the islands as Malvinas, their Argentinian name
‘Any mention of the Malvinas raises the argument for the Argentinians and weakens the positions of the islanders.
‘They don’t deserve this and shouldn’t be treated in this way. If Whitehall begin thinking using the term is acceptable, then we must put a stop to it.’
The Fit For Travel website, run by NHS Scotland to offer advice to British travellers abroad, has been using the term ‘Malvinas’ alongside ‘the Falklands’ for years.
After questions from The Mail on Sunday, the term was deleted. NHS Scotland claimed the listing was an ‘error’ and ‘apologised for the oversight’.
HMRC used the contentious name in its Tax Credits Manual to taxpayers, while the Home Office included it in advice on getting visas to enter Britain.
Patrick Watts, a resident of the islands and former head of Falklands Radio, told The Mail on Sunday last night: ‘I find this use of the word ‘Malvinas’ to be most worrying and inappropriate.
‘It appears to be a recognition by the British Government of the long-held, spurious name given to the islands by Argentina.
‘It shows total disrespect to the British Servicemen who lost their lives in 1982 and will be viewed as an insult by those British veterans.’
Royal Navy frigate HMS Antelope explodes after being hit by an Argentine bomb during the conflict, in which 255 people were killed
Sukey Cameron, who represents the Falkland Islands in the UK, said her government would be making an official complaint.
She said: ‘The term is the Falkland Islands. We have raised this with the Foreign Office and will continue to raise it every time this happens. They have to tell their fellow government departments.
‘There is a misunderstanding that the term Malvinas is the Spanish translation of the Falklands. It’s not, it’s an Argentine term. The Spanish name is the Islas Falkland.’
Both the Home Office and HMRC last night apologised for their errors and promised to only use the term ‘Falkland Islands’ in future.
The Government has now purged any mention of the ‘Malvinas’ on official websites.
A spokesman said: ‘The UK has no doubt about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, nor about the right of the Falkland Islanders to self-determination.’