Agencies run the risk of parliamentary punishment if they produce
ads that feature reproductions of penny coins.
The problem has arisen because the crowned portcullis symbol on the back
of a penny closely resembles the emblem of the House of Commons.
But while the Royal Mint has always had a relaxed view about the use of
coins in ads, asking only that they are not disfigured when reproduced,
Parliament has been taking an increasingly tough stand over unauthorised
use of the portcullis.
Now the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising is asking the Serjeant
at Arms to clarify the rules.
Philip Circus, the IPA’s legal affairs director, said: ’I’d like
reassurance that agencies reproducing the back of pennies don’t find
their senior managers summoned to the bar of the House of Commons
accused of contempt.’
Betty Boothroyd, the Speaker of the House, underlined earlier warnings
about the emblem in a statement this month. She said the Commons’
dignity was at stake and that she reserved the right to give her
personal authorisation for any proposed use.
In theory, the Commons could jail indefinitely anybody found guilty of
contempt. In practice, any agency flouting the rules could expect a
severe ticking off.
’We want to avoid a situation where an agency gets clearance from the
Royal Mint for a proposed design, but finds itself in contempt of
Parliament,’ Circus said.