A charity will go to the High Court later this year in an attempt
to have a ruling against it by the Advertising Standards Authority
The challenge is the latest in a series of skirmishes between the
International Fund for Animal Welfare and the ASA and is indicative of a
growing willingness among advertisers to contest what they consider to
be unreasonable decisions by the authority.
The case will once again put ASA procedures under scrutiny by the courts
and may expose what some legal experts see as its vulnerability in not
having an independent body to rule on disputed adjudications.
The row is over the ASA decision to uphold a complaint by Tesco against
an IFAW press ad. It called on the supermarket to stop selling Canadian
tinned salmon as a protest against the alleged clubbing to death of
seals by Canadian fishermen.
The ad, produced by Wood Burden Smith & Bergin, was in the form of a
public message to Tesco’s chairman, Sir Ian MacLaurin, and carried the
headline: ’Every tin of Canadian salmon Tesco sells is another blow Sir
IFAW executives say the ASA’s ruling against the ad was unlawful because
it failed to follow its own codes.
They also argue that two members of the ASA council, Richard Bradley, a
director of L’Oreal, and Len Sanderson, deputy managing director of the
Telegraph, which the charity says has been hostile to it, should have
stood down when the case was discussed.
Gregory McEwan, IFAW’s lawyer, said: ’The ASA is saying we can’t link
Tesco with a campaign to change public opinion because it is too remote
from it. We find that bizarre.’
Caroline Crawford, the ASA’s public affairs director, said: ’A judicial
review is a way of testing our procedures, which have been found to be
reasonable and fair. Our council is very open about members’ interests
and if anyone was thought to have a conflict of interest they would not
be invited to vote.’