Heathrow agrees to amend fourth misleading advert after complaint to ASA

Rebecca Smith
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This fourth complaint was informally resolved
This fourth complaint was informally resolved (Source: Getty)

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has "informally resolved" a complaint over a Heathrow ad attempting to stir up support for its expansion after the airport agreed to amend it.

The complaint is the fourth in this vein; the three other adverts were judged "misleading".

The latest was made by members of Teddington Action Group (TAG) about an advert from July this year, claiming that: "A majority of MPs support Heathrow expansion."

Read more: Flybe backs Heathrow plans to keep the UK competitive post-Brexit.

In three previous rulings, the ASA agreed the claims in question were misleading and could not be substantiated. These were:

  • An advert from a lobby group for the airport Back Heathrow which said: "Most people living in communities near Heathrow Airport support its expansion"
  • A pro-expansion ad from the airport claiming: "Those around us are behind us"
  • Claims by the airport that: "UK business trade 20 times as much with countries where there are daily flights than with those with less frequent or no direct service."

In the newest case, TAG had complained that saying "the majority of MPs" was misleading, since it was based on a survey of 150 MPs, and claimed the geographical make-up of those polled meant a bias in the results. It also said the advert did not provide sufficient clarity on the source for the claim: "Expanding Heathrow will deliver up to £211bn of economic growth and up to 180,000 jobs across Britain."

Paul McGuinness, spokesman for Teddington Action Group, said an informally resolved case - meaning the ASA won't launch a formal investigation "let Heathrow off the hook".

"We are simply disappointed that this latest breach of the advertising standards - the fourth within 18 months - did not result in a stronger punishment," he said.

A Heathrow spokesman said: "This has been misinterpreted, it is not a ruling and Heathrow has not been censured. The ASA has offered advice on the wording of the advert to give it absolute clarity."

The government decision on airport expansion in the South East will be announced "shortly", according to Theresa May. In her closing speech to the Conservative Party Conference the Prime Minister said "big and sometimes controversial" decisions on infrastructure needed to be taken.