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Sadiq Khan scolded for ‘misleading’ Ulez advertising

Sadiq Khan (Credit: Getty images)

Oh dear. Just when Sadiq Khan may have thought he could finally claim victory over the Ulez scheme he rammed through in London last year, his pet project appears to have landed him in hot water yet again.

The London Mayor has been scolded by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) after Transport for London (TfL), which runs Ulez, ruled its advertising material for the scheme ‘misleading’. The ASA told off TfL, saying that in future it must make sure it can back up any claims it makes in marketing with evidence. Ouch.

The advertising body took issue with three claims TfL made in advertising materials before Ulez was expanded last summer. One radio advert claimed that ‘one of the most polluted places in London is inside your car’. The ASA picked apart the statement, saying TfL had failed to provide any evidence to back up this quite specific claim.

TfL also claimed that Ulez had made a difference by ‘almost halving levels of nitrogen dioxide’ and that most air pollution-related deaths occurred in outer London. The ASA also branded these claims as misleading, pointing out that the adverts that mentioned these ‘facts’ failed to clarify that they weren’t, erm, actually based on facts but rather ‘modelled estimates’.

This is particularly embarrassing for Khan after it was revealed last summer that City Hall was spending £9 million to advertise the Ulez expansion before it went ahead. It also isn’t the first time Khan has got into trouble when promoting the scheme, after City Hall has faced criticism over data transparency and accusations of misleading the public over the benefits of Ulez.

In a statement, TfL said they were ‘disappointed’ at the ruling, and that they believed the ‘information, which was based on robust scientific evidence, was clearly presented’.

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Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

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