Morrisons boss Dalton Philips has apologised for suspending an employee for wearing a Help for Heroes wristband and poppy pin as a sign of respect for murdered military man Lee Rigby.

Philips backtracked after receiving a barrage of complaints from customers and issued a statement via Twitter and Facebook yesterday, admitting he "got the balance wrong."

Morrisons checkout employee was Adam Austin, 28, was told to remove his poppy pin badge and Help for Heroes wristband due to a ban on such accessories under company policy. When he refused, he was sent home from the Portsmouth store.

He told the Mirror: "I was furious. I have friends in the Army and wore them out of respect."

His suspension led to backlash on Twitter and Facebook and calls to boycott the store.

Morrisons issued a statement on Tuesday saying the supermarket encourages staff to show their support and that it had reviewed its policy so that the ban would now only apply to those preparing fresh food.

Formal apology
Yesterday, chief executive Philips issued a further apology in a response to customer complaints.

He said: "Quite simply we got the balance wrong. Our existing rules on wearing badges are there for a good reason. We make lots of fresh food in store and no customer would want a badge dropping in to their food by mistake. It is a food safety issue. And all supermarkets and restaurants apply the same common sense rules.

"But we were applying the rules to all colleagues. And that's not right. So we have changed them. Colleagues not preparing fresh food will now be able to wear a pin badge or bracelet to show their support for registered charities like Help for Heroes. So Adam can return to work and wear his poppy with pride."

Philips continued to say that Morrisons is in full support of the armed forces and that drummer Lee Rigby's murder was "abhorrent".