Lord Mayor's absence 'was a disappointment'
The Royal British Legion says it is disappointed nobody from the Lord Mayor of Leicester's civic office attended its Festival of Remembrance this year.
Organisers of the event at De Montfort Hall, Leicester, on Saturday, had been expecting Lord Mayor Councillor Abdul Osman to attend.
But as the event began, and having announced Coun Osman would be present, they realised he had not taken his seat with other civic dignitaries.
Coun Osman has said he had realised he would be out of the country on the night and had arranged for the High Bailiff, Councillor John Thomas, to represent him.
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Unfortunately, Coun Thomas was ill on Saturday and could not attend.
But the Royal British Legion said it had no knowledge of the switch.
Former Leicestershire legion chairman Jim Rowlinson, who was stage manager for the event, said: "I've been involved in organising this event for 16 years and this is the first time nobody from the Lord Mayor's office has come. We sent out the invites five months beforehand and he said he would come.
"We were a bit disappointed, but we didn't really want to make a big deal about it because the event is sponsored by the Lord Mayor's office."
The Leicester Mercury contacted the legion after someone who attended got in touch to say they were upset about the Lord Mayor's absence.
The city council said the legion was told Coun Thomas was unwell, but Mr Rowlinson and current chairman Dave Atterbury said they were not informed of the switch or Coun Thomas's illness.
Mr Rowlinson said: "The first time we realised nobody was coming was when all the other VIPs took their seats and there was nobody sitting where the Lord Mayor should have been.
"His name was on the chair, so the message didn't get through.
"We were expecting him until the very last minute."
Mr Atterbury said: "If we had known he wasn't coming, we wouldn't have announced him on the speaker.
"As head of the organising committee, I didn't know he had arranged for a substitute and we were expecting him.
"I wouldn't say it's embarrassing but it was definitely a faux pas. There was a communications breakdown. If there was a message, I didn't get it."
Coun Osman said: "I had arranged for the High Bailiff to attend because I was out of the country. That was the week before. He was unwell and couldn't go."
Coun Thomas said he asked for the legion to be informed he was unwell on Saturday and had had to go to hospital.
The city council said a member of the Royal British Legion's event team was told about this.