NEWS: ASA rejects Michael Howard’s criticism of knife sale spots

A senior cabinet minister has criticised the Advertising Standards Authority for failing to crack down on ads promoting dangerous knives.

A senior cabinet minister has criticised the Advertising Standards

Authority for failing to crack down on ads promoting dangerous knives.



The Home Secretary, Michael Howard, met Matti Alderson, the director-

general of the ASA, on Wednesday to urge the authority to take a tough

line on ads for ‘Rambo-style’ combat knives.



As a result, the ASA has issued a call to media owners, asking them to

seek advice before running advertising which features knives or promotes

the sale of them.



Howard is under pressure from the Labour Party to outlaw dangerous

knives, following the murder of the headteacher, Philip Lawrence. It is

unusual for a minister to intervene in the ASA’s day-to-day workings,

and his move is the latest example of the authority being dragged into

the political arena.



Howard said: ‘I am concerned that, because it is its usual practice only

to respond to complaints, the ASA may be missing ads in mail-order

catalogues which are only seen by individuals who are unlikely to

complain.’



But the ASA dismissed Howard’s criticism. Caroline Crawford, the

communications director, said: ‘It is not just a case of waiting for

complaints to come in.’



The row came as the ASA was celebrating victory after a landmark court

battle against a soft porn video producer.



City Trading had evoked the European Convention on Human Rights in an

attempt to overturn an ASA ruling that its ads were offensive. It

claimed the right to freedom of expression.



If upheld, the ruling would have rendered all ASA adjudications invalid.

But the judge ruled that the ASA had acted correctly.



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