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Saturday, October 03, 2009

More ongoing dialogue with the ASA

Dear Mr Caines,

You may wish to close this discussion, but I will not and you will be hearing more from me. Every time some organisation such as Airbus flexes its marketing muscle to discredit or subvert the debate on climate change, I will complain. On the basis my past experience of complaining to the ASA on false environmental claims, I expect the ASA to reject the complaint, and I will then appeal.

I will build up a file of the all the cases where the ASA does not take action on those companies deliberately subverting the debate on climate change and present this to my MP and other politicians who are actively pressing for the level of the debate on climate change to be raised.

As for the points in your letter:

I am not wrong to state that you and the ASA have upheld the Airbus advert. Your actions speak louder than words. You have chosen to take no action when you should have done so. The ASA web site says that that one of your aims is to stop misleading adverts. Airbus's claim that "it is working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," is totally misleading and they are now free to continue these claims.

You say in your email that "I had not succeeded in making out a case." However, irrespective of what evidence that I would have presented, you would have come to the same conclusion, especially when it is absolutely clear that this decision is in breach of your own code. I would be interested to know how many ASA adjudications that you actually overturn, especially on sensitive issues such as this. I have previously spoken to people at the ASA and been told that ASA council decisions are rarely overturned by your "independent review."

It therefore seems that you are a rubber stamper, not an independent reviewer. I would therefore suggest that you consider early retirement and get out of the way to make space for a genuine independent reviewer.

So you are aware of the effectiveness of these types of adverts, only recently the government gave a 350 million pound loan to Airbus for the new A350, which was justified by Peter Mandelson as supporting the development of an environmentally friendly plane. This is after a billion of yet unpaid loans to support the A380. This comes at a time when the poorest people in our society are being told to expect to pay increased fuel bills to combat climate change. This is a propaganda coup that Goebbels would be proud of.
Kevin Lister

From: john caines
To: Kevin Lister <>
Sent: Wednesday, 30 September, 2009 1:51:55 PM
Subject: Re: ASA Case A09-101952: Airbus - Request for Review

Dear Mr Lister

I am replying to your email below, not because I think that there is much value in prolonging this exchange of correspondence (now that I have closed my file on the case), but because I regard it as desirable to put on record where I consider that you have got things wrong.

You are wrong to suggest that in my letter to you of 28 September I have made a decision to uphold the Airbus advertisement. You are also wrong to accuse me of supporting what you describe as Airbus' propaganda and false representations.

The only point contained in my letter of 28 September was my conclusion that you had not succeeded in making out a case to justify my asking the Council of the ASA to reconsider its decision not to investigate a complaint which you had made about an Airbus advertisement. I have not "upheld" that advertisement. Nor have I said that I support that advertisement. I have merely said that you have not persuaded me that the ASA Council's judgement was either unfair or unreasonable.

Your assertion that I work to protect the interests of business rather than the interests of individuals is both unjust and unfounded. During my ten years as Independent Reviewer there have been many occasions when my decisions have been against the interests of business.

You also imply that the ASA is biased in favour of business. It is not for me to try to defend the ASA. It is well able to do that itself. My own experience of dealing with some 500 review request cases during the past ten years has shown me that you are totally unjustified in making such a statement.

Yours sincerely
Sir John Caines
Independent Reviewer
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