Digital Advertising

SNP MP Law fails to validate online reviews, breaching advertising regulation

By Seb Joseph | News editor

October 9, 2016 | 3 min read

Scottish National Party (SNP) MP Chris Law has breached advertising law after he was unable to prove online reviews for a business he owns are real.

Chris_Law

SNP MP Law fails to validate online r.eviews, breaching advertising regulation

The Dundee West MP admitted to the Times that he was unable to prove that testimonials for his mortgage and insurance business The Mortgage Doctors are genuine, meaning he had breached advertising law by allowing them to be published. Consequently, he was forced to remove the ads from the site.

One reviewer, identified as Cynthia Wellbrook from Perth thanked The Mortgage Doctors “for helping me develop the steadings at the farm . . . a dream I have tried to fulfil for years .” The Sunday Times had contacted the only Wellbrook family in Perth, who said there was no one in the family called Cynthia.

Despite Law’s insistence that the reviews are real , they were replaced last night (9 October) with fresh reviews.

The incident comes at an unfortunate time for the party as it prepares for its annual conference in Glasgow later this week. The party’s chief whip Natalie McGarry resigned last month over fraud allegations, while Michelle Thomson left last year after police launched an investigation into her former solicitor. Law has also been investigated by the police

On Friday, a spokeswoman for the SNP, speaking on Law’s behalf, told the Times: “All testimonials are genuine and names were changed to protect customer confidentiality.

“The Advertising Standards Authority did not provide advice on such matters until 2011 — after the testimonials were published. Nevertheless, now this has been brought to the attention of the business, the testimonials have been updated.”

A spokesman for the regulator responded: “If a testimonial is still front and centre of a marketer’s website and is used to promote its products or services then the advertising rules would still bite irrespective of how old the testimonials are.”

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