Last month I reported that the Local Government Chronicle was marketing their annual awards ceremony with a rather extraordinary claim. In a promotional email it's subject heading said:
Would Eric Pickles agree with you attending?
Then the email itself continues:
"The answer is yes he would!"
These are events where tables of ten cost thousands of pounds – with the tab invariably being picked up by the Council Taxpayer of those councils that go along. It is not correct to suggest that Pickles approve of such arrangements.
I have now discover that a complaint was made and upheld ove a breach of trading standards.
Westminster Council reports:
A complaint was received from John Glen MP, the Parliamentary Private Secretary to The Right Hon Eric Pickles MP, regarding potentially misleading marketing. Trading Standards were advised that The Local Government Chronicle Awards 2013 are due to take place imminently and that the company marketing the event sent out e-mail marketing communication to advertise the event. One particular e-mail marketing communication included information that stated "Subject: Would Eric Pickles agree with you attending? The answer is yes he would!"
We have been informed that this is not the case, and that Eric Pickles MP has not approved or endorsed this event. Indeed, the case is quite the reverse. In December 2012 Eric Pickles MP issued best practice guidance to local governmen entitled "50 ways to save", which included the statement "…stop paying to attend glitzy "award ceremonies" which are just an excuse to make money from local government; councils spend an estimated £1.2 million a year on such ceremonies".
Regulation 3 of the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008 prohibits advertising which misleads traders, and advertising is misleading if it in any way, including its presentation, deceives or is likely to deceive the traders to whom it is addressed or …affect their economic behaviour.
The marketing company have been advised and warned that when marketing events such as the Local Government Chronicle Awards they do not use any statements that give the impression that the event would be approved or endorsed by somebody, when in fact it will not."