01 September 1999

FROM 31 JANUARY, political ads will no longer be restricted by those sections of the advertising codes of practice designed to prevent the public from illegal, indecent, dishonest and untruthful claims. The Committee of Advertising Practice has published a new code exempting political ads from the rules that govern other advertisers. Although politicos will still have to adhere to codes regarding taste and decency, and will not be allowed to make libellous or fraudulent claims, the criteria of ‘honesty and fairness’ are to be thrown out of the window. Since the 1997 election campaign (and the Tories’ notorious ‘Demon-eyes’ campaign by M & C Saatchi), CAP has struggled to reach consensus on a system of political regulation but failed to gain agreement from all the parties. As no other regulator appears willing to touch political ad policing with a bargepole, CAP has washed its hands of the responsibility. Said CAP chairman Andrew Brown: 'A lot of complaints about these ads are complaints from one party about the other party's ads. So I suspect it's inter-party squabbling rather than the general public finding itself deeply vexed about what is going on.'