17th December 2020
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the UK’s independent regulator of advertising across all media, has rejected a complaint about an advert we put in The Scotsman newspaper on 25 November. The advert criticised the proposed Hate Crime Bill set to appear before the Scottish Parliament and encouraged readers to contact their MP to ask for it to be withdrawn.
Writing to update us on this matter, the ASA said; “We’ve told the complainant that we won’t pursue the matter because, on the facts available to us, the ad rules have not been broken.”
The ASA put the complaint to the ASA Council, who decided that no further investigation was necessary. They considered that readers were likely to understand the claims in the ads to be reflective of the beliefs we hold and that readers were “unlikely to interpret the claims in the ad as objective but based on the advertiser’s own view”. They therefore concluded the ads were unlikely to materially mislead.
The Committee of Advertising Practice Code was drafted to reflect the requirements of Article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998 which states that everyone has the right to freedom of expression, subject to any proportionate limitations as were necessary for the functioning of democratic society. The ASA Council considered that the ad “made a contribution to the debate surrounding the proposed legislation”, and, therefore, that they “could not intervene to prohibit the ad without restricting the advertiser’s freedom of expression unjustifiably.”