Mail columnist David “Bumble” Lloyd plugs optician, without disclosure of interest

  1. What do David “Bumble” Lloyd and Fiona Phillips have in common? Both are broadcasters who write columns for national newspapers. But there’s something else as well. Both have plugged well-known optician Specsavers in their columns, without disclosure of interest.
  2. On 25 April 2018, I exclusively revealed that Ms Phillips has used her Daily Mirror column more than once to promote Specsavers, without disclosure of interest. Private Eye magazine reported my findings, too (see 3 May 2018 post).
  3. Cricket broadcaster Mr Lloyd has a column in the Daily Mail (“Bumble at the Test”). On 1 September 2018, he wrote about the England v India fourth Test. Under the headline “Star-studded specs”, a “story” began: “I needed a new set of bins… and up pop Specsavers. I now have five pairs, one for each day of the Test – and very natty they are too.” However, the former international cricketer failed to mention his commercial relationship with the optician. (Daily Mail 1 Sep 2018 p118)(Daily Mail 1 Sep 2018 p119)
  4. Mr Lloyd is at it on his personal Twitter account, too. On 13 August 2018, for example, he tweeted about a Specsavers competition to win the “ultimate cricket experience”, one involving a chat with him at lunch during the upcoming fifth Test (screen shot in Figure 1). As you can see, again he didn’t make clear that he’s paid to plug the optician.

    Figure 1. David “Bumble” Lloyd plugs Specsavers on Twitter, without disclosure of interest

  5. Specsavers confirmed the commercial relationship in an email. It pays Mr Lloyd to promote “the importance of good eyesight in sport, as part of our relationship with Test match cricket”. (Specsavers is the official Test partner of the England cricket team.)
  6. So it’s not only the Daily Mirror that allows high-profile columnists to plug products and services, without disclosure of interest. The Daily Mail does, too.
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UK Direct Shop Ltd can’t name the celebrities who supposedly use its bracelet

  1. Today (25 April 2018) the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) listed UK Direct Shop Ltd on its website as one of 43 “informally resolved” cases this week. This was after my complaint to the advertising regulator about the company’s ad that appeared in the Daily Mail newspaper on 21 February 2018.
  2. The ad was for the “Bio-Mag Therapy Bracelet”. (Daily Mail 21 Feb 2018) I first wrote about UK Direct Shop Ltd and its bracelet on 9 May 2017, when I pointed out that there was no UK-registered company with that name, according to the Companies House register. There still isn’t.
  3. As you can see, the ad proclaims: “As used by celebrities!” It also states: “Even well-known celebrities are wearing them.”
  4. I asked UK Direct Shop in an email to tell me which celebrities use its bracelet. In its reply the advertiser didn’t name any celebrities. UK Direct Shop wrote: “Unfortunately I am unable to disclose the names of any celebrities that use the Bio Mag Therapy Bracelet. This is due to the fact that the bracelet is a health product, and as such the celebrities that use the product do not wish to be identified as this would indicate that they are suffering from a health problem themselves. One of the key features of the bracelet is that it is discreet, this is a key reason why people that are in the public eye use this product as they do not wish to be seen as having health problems.”
  5. The advertiser’s answer is unacceptable. It should be able to substantiate its claims about celebrities using the product.
  6. The ASA agreed. On 12 April 2018, it told me in an email: “We contacted the advertiser, and they were unable to substantiate the claim concerning celebrities. They have agreed to remove the claim from their future advertising unless they are able to evidence it.”

National newspaper follow-ups of my Jeremy Hunt exposé

  1. Today (14 April 2018) the rest of the national press have followed up yesterday’s Daily Telegraph front-page exclusive on health secretary Jeremy Hunt for which I was source (see previous post).
  2. Here I highlight two reports, where the journalists quoted me, after bothering to speak to me and ask questions. Proper journalism, then.
  3. I told the Daily Mail I was disappointed Mr Hunt simply blamed his accountant for the failures I identified (Daily Mail 14 April 2018).
  4. The Guardian, meanwhile, reported my comments about the lack of scrutiny at Companies House. It seems Companies House is open to potential abuse. Why didn’t it pick up the glaring errors in the details for Mr Hunt’s company? (Guardian 14 April 2018).

TV doctor Xand van Tulleken plugs blood testing company, without disclosure of interest

  1. Dr Xand van Tulleken, a high-profile media doctor, is everywhere at the moment, including Channel 4, presenting TV show, “How to Lose Weight Well”. Naturally, there’s a “best-selling” book with the series. At the start of the year, the Daily Mail newspaper published Dr Xand‘s “Definitive Diet” in a separate pull-out section, based on the new book. He’s a busy man, then – and that doesn’t include the TV programmes he presents with identical twin brother, Dr Chris. The twin doctors‘ programmes together include “Operation Ouch!”, a BAFTA-award-winning medical show on Children’s BBC.
  2. On 3 April 2018, Dr Xand issued health advice in an article in the Daily Mirror newspaper, “The six reasons you can’t stop feeling tired: Dr Xand‘s must-read guide”. There he plugged consumer blood testing company Werlabs, without disclosure of interest.
  3. Dr Xand is an “ambassador” for Werlabs, according to his Twitter biography (screen shot in Figure 1).

    Figure 1. Dr Xand van Tulleken on Twitter at 3 April 2018

  4. On the same day, Dr Xand also tweeted a link to his Mirror article online (screen shot in Figure 2).

    Figure 2. Dr Xand van Tulleken tweets link to his Mirror article online (3 April 2018)

  5. It‘s bad enough for a doctor to plug medical products and services (for a discussion of this point, see 3 April 2017 post). It’s even worse if he/she does so, without disclosure of interest.
  6. Then there’s a second problem with Dr Xand promoting Werlabs: he describes himself as “BBC Doctor” on the Werlabs website (screen shot in Figure 3). Yet the BBC Editorial Guidelines are clear: “… it is essential that promotional activities do not undermine the integrity of the BBC, the presenter or the programmes with which they are associated.” (section 15.4.31)

    Figure 3. “BBC Doctor” Dr Xand van Tulleken on Werlabs website at 3 April 2018

  7. Thus it’s simply inappropriate for Dr Xand to plug Werlabs, given his role as a BBC presenter.
  8. Further, by describing himself as BBC Doctor” on the firm’s website, Dr Xand creates the impression that there’s an association between the BBC and Werlabs. But, again, the BBC Editorial Guidelines are clear on this point: “Advertisements or promotions undertaken by presenters must not in any way suggest BBC endorsement, undermine the BBC’s values, bring the BBC into disrepute, or give the public reason to doubt the objectivity of BBC presenters.” (section 15.4.33)
  9. Regular readers will know that Dr Xand isn’t the first high-profile media doctor to plug medical products and services, without disclosure of interest. Far from it. He joins the growing list that includes Dr Hilary Jones (see 3 April 2017 post) and Dr Louise Newson (see 10 October 2017 and 21 February 2018 posts). Unlike those two, though, Dr Xand responded fully and promptly – on the same day, in fact – when I requested a comment.
  10. About the Mirror article, Dr Xand said in an email: “I agree that disclosure of interests is extremely important. I make no secret of my connection to Werlabs. I’m delighted to be their ambassador: they’re a fantastic company, benefiting both the NHS and their customers. Nonetheless I completely agree that my relationship with them should have been in the article itself. I’ll make sure it is if the situation arises again. I will ask the Mirror to change the online text – that isn’t within my control but I can ask.”
  11. And on appearing as BBC Doctor” on the Werlabs website, Dr Xand added in the same email: “I didn’t realize that I was described that way on the Werlabs website. It is not only inappropriate, as you suggest, but but [sic] it doesn’t correctly describe my relationship with the BBC. I will ask them to alter it at once and I’m very grateful to you for pointing it out.”

Daily Mail blurs the separation between editorial and advertising

  1. On 16 March 2018, the Daily Mail newspaper reported comments by Andrea McLean, the TV presenter, about the menopause. In particular, Ms McLean suggested “M” badges for women experiencing the menopause (“TV’s Loose Woman: Give us ‘M’ badges… so everyone knows we’re menopausal!”) (Daily Mail 16 Mar 2018).
  2. A rather controversial suggestion that attracted publicity. Even the BBC news website picked it up, for example (www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43429713). But there was something else that struck me about the Daily Mail report: its final sentence. It said: The former model has teamed up with clothing company Become to create underwear for women going through the menopause.” In other words, the newspaper “reported” that the TV presenter was plugging a menopause-related clothing firm – and duly identified it. (The BBC report, meanwhile, said nothing about the clothing company.)
  3. Thus we might understand why Ms McLean said something so outlandish to the newspaper: to publicise the clothing company, which is presumably paying her.
  4. But here my focus is the Daily Mail. The report risks undermining the newspaper’s editorial integrity. It wasn’t actually a report, but an ad. A hidden ad presented as editorial. How misleading and dishonest.
  5. At date of publication Susie Coen, the reporter who wrote the article, hasn’t responded to a request for comment. As you can see, Ms Coen is “showbusiness” reporter.

Private Eye reports exposés of national newspaper ads by fake limited company for “detox foot patches”

  1. The current issue of Private Eye (1462) reports my linked exposés of national newspaper ads by a fake limited company for “detox foot patches” (see previous post and the reference there).
  2. Private Eye is the UK’s number one best-selling news and current affairs magazine.
  3. You won’t find the report – or much else from the magazine – on the Eye website because the online presence is minimal. Heres a scanned copy of the page from my subscription copy – see top right corner: Private Eye 1462.

Dr Miriam Stoppard dismisses “detox foot patches” as a sham – but Daily Mirror carried ads for them earlier this year

  1. On 19 December 2017, Daily Mirror health columnist Dr Miriam Stoppard rightly dismissed “detox foot patches” as a sham: Daily Mirror 19 Dec 2017.
  2. But something she didn’t mention: her newspaper carried ads for them earlier this year. See, for example, this ad on 25 January 2017: Daily Mirror 25 Jan 2017 p.24. The same ad also appeared on 7 March 2017: Daily Mirror 7 Mar 2017 p.35.
  3. The advertiser is Health Broadcast Ltd, a company I wrote about on 15 August 2017. As I then pointed out, there’s no UK-registered company with that name, according to the Companies House register. Further, the company didn’t respond to emails asking why it isn’t on the Companies House register.
  4. My 15 August 2017 post describes my complaints to the Daily Mail newspaper after it persisted in publishing ads for Health Broadcast Ltd.