9 Aug 2013

Ad watchdog probes ‘go home’ immigration van campaign

News Correspondent

A government campaign using vans to tell illegal immigrants to “go home” or face arrest is to be investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The Home Office displayed the advert in six London boroughs on the side of a van as part of a pilot scheme.

According to the ASA, most of the complaints were concerned about the phrase “go home” with critics saying it was “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”.

Others complained to the ASA that the claim “106 arrests last week in your area” could be misleading.

‘Falling short’

The Labour peer Lord Lipsey, who is a former member of the council of the ASA, is one of those who has complained on grounds of accuracy.

Lord Lipsey told Channel 4 News he felt the advert “falls far short of the standards insisted on by the ASA” and that the government needs to ensure “it does not exaggerate or lie in breach of the advertising code”.

The ASA received a total of 60 complaints and says it will publish its findings in due course.

‘Stupid and offensive’

The advertising watchdog’s investigation is the latest examination of the Home Office’s controversial campaign. Last week, the Equality and Human Rights Commission said it would question the Home Office over whether it had “complied with its public sector equality duty” when planning the advert.

The campaign has also been attacked by senior Liberal Democrats in government, including the Business Secretary Vince Cable, who described it as “stupid and offensive”.

The Home Office has previously said the campaign was “working” but still refuses to answer questions over how many illegal immigrants have responded to the campaign or been removed from the UK as a result.