NEWS: Labour fuels row about ASA ruling

Fears that the Advertising Standards Authority could be used as a political football in the run-up to the general election were exacerbated this week after the Labour Party issued a press release trumpeting a recent ASA ruling against the Conservative Party.

Fears that the Advertising Standards Authority could be used as a

political football in the run-up to the general election were

exacerbated this week after the Labour Party issued a press release

trumpeting a recent ASA ruling against the Conservative Party.



The ASA has expressed disquiet that its rejection of Tory complaints

about Labour’s ‘same old Tories, same old lies’ poster is being

presented by Labour as an ASA endorsement of its campaign.



The ASA’s action comes amid concern within the Institute of

Practitioners in Advertising that the authority is allowing itself to be

caught in the political crossfire (Campaign, last week).



ASA executives are currently studying the comments of Frank Dobson,

Labour’s environment spokesman, in a press release headed ‘Tories are

liars - official’, in which he welcomes ASA ‘support’.



Dobson said: ‘The ASA is right to say that calling the Tories liars is

unlikely to cause offence, as it is true. We will continue to point this

out.’



Caroline Crawford, the ASA’s communications director, commented: ‘We

will be making sure that the parties know exactly what our position is

and that they don’t unwittingly misrepresent our role in political

advertising.’



The ASA provoked controversy by banning the Tory poster depicting Tony

Blair with demonic eyes. Some industry critics believe it has allowed

itself to become embroiled in an area from which it should have kept

clear.



Philip Circus, the IPA’s legal affairs director, said: ‘We are very

worried that Labour should so distort the effect of the Code of

Advertising Practice on political advertising. It is a travesty of the

facts.’



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