A company specialising in sending unsolicited faxes faces prosecution after its refusal to comply with a ruling against it by the Advertising Standards Authority.
The watchdog has called on the Office of Fair Trading to take action against Planet Telecom after it declined to give an undertaking not to distribute a fax outlawed by the ASA as misleading.
The referral of the case to the OFT is the climax of a running battle between the ASA and the Wigan-based company which began in February 1998 after it sent a fax headed "Paedophiles in your neighbourhood".
The ASA called for the fax to be withdrawn, ruling that its tone condoned violence against child sex offenders and was likely to cause widespread offence.
The fight came to a head in December last year when the company distributed a fax headlined "192 enquiries". The ASA said the fax misleadingly implied Planet Telecom was requesting information on behalf of British Telecom but the company declined to give an undertaking it would not send the fax again.
Planet Telecom is the third advertiser to be referred to the OFT for action under the 1988 Control of Misleading Advertisements Regulations since Christopher Graham's appointment as the ASA's director general nine months ago.