The Advertising Standards Authority has refused to become embroiled in the heated battle between supporters and opponents of Britain joining the single European currency.
In the first test of the new rules that exempt political advertising from the ad industry's code of practice, the ASA's council decided that pro- and anti-euro ads were now outside its remit and could not therefore rule on two complaints that they were misleading.
Christopher Graham, the ASA's director general, said: "These advertisements are early shots in a campaign for a referendum which everybody knows will take place at some point. Election advertising is now outside the authority's remit. Pro- and anti-single currency advertising should be treated no differently." He added: "It is now for the voters to make their own assessment of rival political claims."
Graham insisted the ASA's refusal to intervene did not signal a free-for-all for political lobbyists. He said the authority would continue to rule on other public affairs campaigns.
The two complaints were over a poster by Britain In Europe, which warned that three million jobs were at risk if Britain was "cut off from Europe," and a national press ad by the rival Democracy Movement depicting Tony Blair, Michael Heseltine and Kenneth Clarke, saying they wanted to give up control of Britain's economy by joining the euro.
The ASA decision means that ads about the single currency are in "no man's land" until the political parties reach agreement on a new body to regulate political advertising.