UK & World News
Probe Into Government's 'Go Home' Poster Van
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is investigating the Home Office poster van campaign targeting illegal immigrants.
The ASA said it had received 60 complaints, which expressed concerns that the ads were "reminiscent of slogans used by racist groups to attack immigrants in the past".
The poster van carried the slogans: "In the UK illegally? Go home or face arrest." A second line on the advert claimed: "106 arrested in your area". It then encouraged illegal immigrants to text "home" to the number 78070.
The campaign attracted widespread criticism, including censure from the Business Secretary Vince Cable, who called it "stupid and offensive".
However, Downing Street insisted that it was working and that immigrants were volunteering to leave, although the Home Office did not provide figures.
The van travelled through Barnet, Hounslow, Barking and Dagenham, Ealing, Brent and Redbridge as part of a £10,000 pilot scheme, which ended at the end of last month.
Responding to criticism, Downing Street pointed out that the scheme was cheaper than the £15,000 cost of forcibly removing illegal immigrants from the country.
They suggested the scheme could be rolled out across the country.
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."
Chris Bryant MP, Labour's shadow immigration minister, said: "This is another embarrassing blow to a Government which continues to fail to deal with immigration.
"With more people absconding at the border and fewer illegal immigrants being returned, David Cameron and Theresa May can't even get the basics right, stumbling from one shambles to another.
"You've got to question the Government's competence. We need effective action on immigration not offensive stunts."
A Home Office spokesman said: "We can confirm that we are in contact with the Advertising Standards Authority over this investigation and will respond in due course."
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.
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.