Advertising Standards Authority are investigating ‘racist van’ campaign in Brent
PUBLISHED: 12:49 09 August 2013 | UPDATED: 12:57 09 August 2013
A controversial Home Office campaign targeting illegal immigrants is being investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority.
Last month, ads displayed on billboards carried by vans in Brent and five other London boroughs told overstaying migrants “Go home, or you’ll be picked up and deported”.
Residents and cross-party politicians reacted to the campaign with anger and disgust.
The ASA’s probe is in addition to another investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into a wave of immigration checks across the country including two conducted in Kensal Green train station and on Chichele Road, Cricklewood.
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.
According to witnesses to the checks in Kensal Green the officers were aggressive, intimidating and were specifically targeting non-white individuals.
Kensal Rise resident Phil O’Shea told the Times he was threatened with arrest when he asked what was going on.
He said: “I thought the behaviour of the officers was heavy-handed and frightening. They appeared to be stopping and questioning every non-white person, many of whom were clearly ordinary Kensal Green residents going to work.
“When I queried what was going on I was threatened with arrest for obstruction and was told to ‘crack on’.”
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.”
On Tuesday civil right’s group Liberty drove a van bearing the slogan “Stirring up tension and division in the UK illegally? Home Office, think again” through Brent.
They parked the vehicle outside Kensal Green station in College Road, where they handed out leaflets explaining their action.
The Home Office said they would make no apology for enforcing immigration laws.
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