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Ad watchdog probes ‘Go home’ vans

'RACIST AND DIVISIVE': Complainants have likened the Home Office vans to fascist group politics of the 1970s (PA)

HOME OFFICE vans branded with the slogan “Go home or face arrest” and its immigration campaign are to be investigated by the national advertising watchdog.

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) said it has launched a probe into the scheme, that saw the vans drive through London, because it had received 60 complaints about the poster it was carrying.

The government campaign was trialled in the capital, according to the Home Office, to pilot new measures to save money on forcibly deporting illegal immigrants.

The campaign poster on the vans calls for illegal immigrants to make contact with the Home Office.

The Lib Dems, human rights group Liberty and the Unite union have all been vocal critics of the department’s scheme.

Liberty commissioned its own vans to be driven in Westminster in an ironic counter campaign to the Home Office saying it was stirring up community tensions and that it should “think again”.

Unite also sought legal advice to determine whether the Home Office vans were illegal because they could be “inciting racial hatred”.

Business Secretary Vince Cable called the scheme “stupid and offensive”, while Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg questioned the point of the van “driving aimlessly” through north London.

In a statement, ASA said those who complained said the Home Office’s choice of slogan was “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”.

The watchdog added: “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.”

In response to earlier widespread criticism, the Home Office defended its campaign and said it was working.

However, its stop-check tactics to find illegal immigrants in public areas were also criticised as “racially profiling people” because of their skin colour by newly appointed Labour peer Doreen Lawrence.

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