Feeds

ASA bites PETA over Baby P billboard

Watchdog unhorses animal rights group

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ordered People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) not to re-run a billboard campaign featuring Steven Barker, the man who tortured 17-month-old Peter Connelly and was subsequently found guilty of "causing or allowing" the infant's death.

PETA's Steven Barker poster

The ASA received one complaint that the ad was "offensive and distressing, used unnecessary shock tactics and exploited the death of Baby P", and "was also located in the area where Baby P lived and died" (Haringey, North London), and therefore "particularly offensive and distressing to residents of that area".

In its defence to the ASA, PETA asserted that Barker "had been known to torture animals as a child, and had been convicted by the courts of the abuse of Baby P and the rape of another child".

PETA stressed that "the link between cruelty to animals and violence towards humans was documented in numerous studies, and they provided a brief outline of, and web links to, some of those reports, as well as a list of convicted killers who they said had a history of animal abuse".

The organisation insisted the ad was "well within the prevailing standards of decency". It added that the "documented link between animal and human abuse was shocking and intrinsically frightening", and it was "not possible to educate the public about that link without anticipating some fear and distress".

The ASA, however, ruled that "the claim and image used in the ad had been used in a shocking way merely to attract attention and that the reason did not justify the means in this case".

It concluded that the ad was likely "to cause serious offence and distress to some people" and similarly "to cause serious offence and distress to some residents" in the area where Baby P died.

It therefore declared the advertisement in breach of "CAP Code clauses 5.1 and 5.2 (Decency) and 9.1 (Fear and distress)", ordering that it "must not appear again in its current form". ®

Bootnote

In October last year, PETA was obliged to change the wording of the original billboard campaign, which opened with "Steven Barker: Animal Abuser, Rapist and Murderer", after Barker himself threatened to sue for libel.

According to the Daily Mail, Barker's solicitor fired off a letter which read: "I have been informed of your latest advertising campaign featuring my client. You should be aware that Mr Barker was acquitted of murder at the Central Criminal Court. Your campaign poster is therefore libellous. Please remove it immediately or we will be forced to institute proceedings against you."

PETA replaced the poster at a cost of £1,000, but "could have faced a much higher bill if Barker had sued successfully".

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more
Oh yeah ... and a 30% cut for Amazon to seal the deal
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Nintend-OH NO! Sorry, Mario – your profits are in another castle
Red-hatted mascot, red-colored logo, red-stained finance books
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London
Plus: Almost NOBODY uses pay-by-bonk on buses - Visa
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.