When is a lie not a lie – Take two
Apparently when it’s on a press release or it’s on a website!
Back in 2012 we raised a series of issues with the Advertising Standards Authority regarding a leaflet sent out to local residents by Cuadrilla. Several of our complaints were upheld in the ruling of 2013 including one which stated
Cuadrilla uses proven, safe technologies to explore for and recover natural gas
The ASA duly adjudicated that
On this point, the claim “Cuadrilla uses proven, safe technologies to explore for and recover natural gas” breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.11 (Exaggeration).
We were disappointed a couple of months later to have to report that Cuadrilla used almost exactly the same phrase in a Press Release.
Cuadrilla Resources uses proven, safe technologies to explore for and recover natural gas reserves
We did raise this with the ASA but they wriggled out of having to take any politically awkward action by saying:
“as it’s a press release (which is not considered advertising) we can’t take action”
It was disappointing that Cuadrilla took such a cynical attitude to the censure that they received from the ASA, but we supposed that readers would draw their own conclusions about what this says about the company, and perhaps the industry as a whole.
Imagine out surprise though when last night it was pointed out to us that Cuadrilla are making exactly the same claim on a website called http://www.shalegaslancashire.co.uk/
We think this is taking cynicism to a totally unacceptable level and would ask Francis Egan to explain why he feel able to throw the ASA’s ruling back in its face in this way. If he responds we will be happy to publish his answer here. There can be no doubt that these words are Cuadrilla’s own as the footer on the page states:
What is more concerning perhaps though is the involvement of two other bodies in making this claim – the logos of the East Lancs Chamber of Commerce and the North West Lancs Chamber of Commerce are clearly visible on the page, and although Cuadrilla claim the copyright on all of the page content, the web site is actually registered by these two bodies.
Backing Fracking (more on them later) pointed out to us that this link between the Chambers and Cuadrilla was made public last year at http://www.lancashirebusinessview.co.uk/lancashire-chambers-join-forces-create-shale-gas-portal-50922/
This doesn’t change the fact that these Chambers will not be able to claim to offer any form of independent opinion at the enquiry which opens on 9th February.
Given the fact that local Chambers of Commerce are frequently in receipt of tax payer funding, it might seem reasonable to assume that you and I are, directly or indirectly, funding the promotion of Cuadrilla Resources’ interests by Chambers of Commerce who appear quite happy to put their names to questionable statements that have previously been censured by the ASA.
If this is not the case maybe someone from one of the Chambers can clarify the situation for us?