Home Office's 'go home' ad campaign: Advertising watchdog launches investigation

ASA receives 60 complaints over Home Office ad vans

Heather Saul@heatheranne9
Saturday 10 August 2013 14:09
The Home Office advert scheme urged illegal immigrants to 'go home'
The Home Office advert scheme urged illegal immigrants to 'go home'

An investigation into the Home Office "Go Home" ad vans campaign has been launched by the advertising watchdog following a series of complaints.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) confirmed they launched their investigation after receiving 60 complaints that the ads were "reminiscent of slogans used by racist groups to attack immigrants in the past".

The regulator said some complaints also centred around the claim that "106 arrests last week in your area" made in the advert was misleading.

Last month, adverts displayed on billboards transported by vans in six London boroughs were driven around in a Government effort to tell overstaying migrants to "go home", or face arrest and deportation.

The campaign may be extended nationwide, if the Home Office considers it to be successful.

An ASA spokesman said: "I can confirm that the Advertising Standards Authority has launched a formal investigation into the Home Office 'Go Home' ad campaign following 60 complaints.

"Complainants have expressed concerns that the ad, in particular the phrase 'Go Home', is offensive and irresponsible because it is reminiscent of slogans used by racist groups to attack immigrants in the past and could incite or exacerbate racial hatred and tensions in multicultural communities.

"Separately, some complainants have challenged whether the claim '106 arrests last week in your area' is misleading.

"They've also challenged whether it is misleading because it implies arrest is the automatic consequence of remaining in the UK without permission.

"We will publish our findings in due course."

Migrant groups, Labour politicians and unions had reacted to the campaign with anger and disgust. Labour peer Lord Lipsey led criticism of the adverts, voicing his concern that claims made in the advert could not be sustained. He argued that the areas the advert referred to were "huge" and stretched from Hounslow in the west to Dagenham in the east, crucially including Heathrow Airport.

“I do not believe that any inhabitant of Barking and Dagenham would believe their area to include Hounslow. Again, the Government is deliberately misleading the public by aggregating figures over an area which no one would describe as theirs", he said on 31 July.

The ASA's probe comes in addition to another investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into a wave of immigration checks across the country.

The EHRC launched the probe after it was claimed that the spot checks - conducted at transport hubs up and down the country - were being carried out by border officials purely on the basis of ethnicity.

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