It’s probably an irrelevant detail but just in case it isn’t: I’m told by a usually reliable source that last week was the BSkyB Directors dinner, a quarterly event which is about the only time all the non-executive directors actually get together. The next morning several NEDs suddenly increased their shareholdings. See the list here:
This is despite the share price being artificially high because of the buyback brought about by hackgate, in fact it’s only just below the 850p that was the highest price News Corp made as their final offer.
If they’d heard something at a board meeting and acted on it that would be insider trading and illegal. I understand that a dinner for NEDs isn’t legally a board meeting and they aren’t legally “discharging managerial responsibilities” as defined by the FSA.
I’m sure its just a case that they have been blown away by the verve and ambition of the company and decided they wanted a bigger part of it.
I’ll be watching future activities of the company with great interest, particularly as James Murdoch has been released from hiding in recent weeks. According to the FT he sees the BSkyB issue as “unfinished business”.
The minister couldn’t or wouldn’t answer my question on the arming of the Syrian Opposition today:
Mr Tom Watson (West Bromwich East) (Lab):Please can the Minister tell me what knowledge he and his Department have of weapons procurement by the Syrian opposition funded by the Saudis and supported by the Americans?
Mr Dunne:This Minister can offer no enlightenment to the hon. Gentleman on that subject.
The 2010 Conservative Party General Election Manifesto made
safeguarding Britain’s credit rating the number 1 “Benchmark for
“Benchmarks for Britain. For the first time, the British people will
have eight clear and transparent benchmarks against which they can
judge the economic success or failure of the next government. We will
be accountable and open. These are the eight Benchmarks for Britain.
Achieving them over the next Parliament will mean we have put Britain
back on its feet and are building a new British economic model, very
different from the debt-driven economy of recent years.
Change the economy | Benchmarks for Britain
1. ensure macroeconomic stability: We will safeguard britain’s credit
rating with a credible plan to eliminate the bulk of the structural
deficit over a Parliament.”
2 . The Chancellor George Osborne has repeatedly hailed the views of
the credit rating agencies as the measure of success for economic
policy. When Britain was first put on negative outlook by Standard and
Poor’s in 2009, the then Shadow Chancellor George Osborne said that
the country’s “economic reputation is on the line” and called for an
early general election:
“It’s now clear that Britain’s economic reputation is on the line at
the next general election, another reason for bringing the date
forward and having that election now… For the first time since these
ratings began in 1978, the outlook for British debt has been
downgraded from stable to negative.” George Osborne, The Guardian, 21
May 2009, http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/may/21/standard-poors-uk-economic-outlook
3. When Britain was taken off negative outlook by the Standard and
Poor’s credit rating agency in October 2010, following figures showing
0.8% growth in the third quarter of 2010, George Osborne said it was a
“vote of confidence” in his policies:
“What you see today, in an uncertain global economic environment, is
Britain growing, growing strongly, the strongest growth we have seen
in this part of the year for a decade, and also our country’s credit
rating being secured. That is a big vote of confidence in the UK, and
a vote of confidence in the coalition government’s economic policies.”
George Osborne, The Guardian, 26 October 2010, http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/oct/26/gdp-growth-osborne-construction
4. In May 2011 George Osborne boasted that this move was thanks to the
Government’s policies and had delivered “economic stability”:
4. But in February 2012 Moody’s put Britain on negative outlook,
citing “weaker growth prospects”:
“The key drivers of today’s action on the United Kingdom are: 1) The
increased uncertainty regarding the pace of fiscal consolidation in
the UK due to materially weaker growth prospects over the next few
years, with risks skewed to the downside. Any further abrupt economic
or fiscal deterioration would put into question the government’s
ability to place the debt burden on a downward trajectory by fiscal
year 2015-16.” Moody’s statement, 13 February 2012, http://blogs.news.sky.com/therealeconomy/Post:a1b96258-7135-4f6b-8853-b33d8a30fce8
5. In May 2012, Fitch also put Britain on negative outlook, saying a
downgrade would be triggered if there was “a material downward
revision of the assessment of the UK’s medium-term growth potential”.
6. When Standard and Poor’s – which has subsequently put Britain on
negative outlook – reaffirmed Britain’s credit rating in July 2012
George Osborne claimed “the world has confidence” in his policies:
“On the day Britain welcomes the world to our country for the Olympic
games, this is a reminder that despite the economic problems we face,
the world has confidence that we are dealing with them.” George
Osborne, 28 July 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19025747
These reports are grim reading for David Cameron. ”>I don’t wholly agree with former conservative MP Paul Goodman’s analysis in the Telegraph but it is brilliantly insightful, as ever.
‘Our candidate… a loose cannon? Angry PM fires broadside at BBC’ (Guard p16) – ‘Cameron blasts the BBC for ‘behaving stupidly’ over his election candidate’ (Mail p36) – ‘Cam raps Beeb for empty chair stunt’ (Sun p2 ld) as ‘Hiding our candidate? This is BBC behaving badly, says Cameron’ (Tele p18) – So, how do you ssolve a problem like Maria’ (Mirror p2 ld) – ‘Tory’s radio silence prompts claims of interference’ (Ti p7) – The Tory by-election campaign in Eastleigh suffered a blow when the PM was forced to deny that the party’s candidate was being hidden away because she was a “loose cannon”, rpt. Cameron also became embroiled in a row with the BBC after the candidate spent time preparing for an event with him rather than face voters at a hustings organised by the corporation. Lib Dems asked why she was “running scared” of the media and being “gagged” by Tory minders when she was out on the stump. They also demanded to know why the Tories continued to describe her as “local” when she only moved to Hampshire from Essex after she was selected to stand at the last general election. Cameron: “Maria is hard-working, lives locally, is a mother of four, has business experience. That’s what matters. We’ve got a great candidate, she’d do a brilliant job for the constituency. She backed my plan to get on top of the deficit, get the economy moving, reform welfare, give us a fair immigration system. She backs all those things, I want her in the House of Commons beside me voting for those things.” Cameron later found himself on the back foot when he was asked if Hutchings was being hidden away because she is a “loose cannon”. Cameron: “We’re not hiding her away, she’s right here.” Asked why Hutchings was not at the R5 hustings, Cameron said she had been with him at the visit to the cable manufacturer. A BBC television correspondent pointed out that he had been at both – and so she could have been too. Cameron: “I think the BBC has behaved badly and stupidly about this from everything I’ve heard. My understanding is that we were discussing with you for ages about the timing of the hustings and the fact that Maria wanted to be with me for this meeting. I do think this is a totally got-up thing by the BBC. You’re not the most important thing in this byelection. The candidates are.” The BBC seemed to contradict Cameron’s account of long-running discussions over the hustings arrangements, saying that all four main party candidates had been asked on 13 February to take part in the debate. It had only been told on Wednesday that Hutchings could not be there. BBC spokes: “This was too late for us to rearrange the broadcast, as the venue, the audience and the other candidates had all been confirmed.” O’Farrell said it did not matter that she was not at the hustings – as she was represented there by her government’s coalition partner (Guard) … ‘Hutchings snubs Eastleigh radio debate to go canvassing with PM’ (Ti) – Farron said the failure of Mrs Hutchings to attend demonstrated that “her claims to stay in touch are empty and worthless”. Farron: “You have to ask why the Conservative machine keeps trying to hide her away. This is a candidate who says on her leaflets that she puts local people before political ambition, yet the moment she gets to share the spotlight with her party leader all that is forgotten.” John O’Farrell wrote on Twitter: “Doing Radio 5 at 10am with other #Eastleigh candidates, except Maria Hutchings who’s locked in a cupboard at Tory HQ with tape on her mouth.” (Ti)
‘The Eastleigh by-election is a horrible warning for the Tories’ (Tele p24 oped) – Goodman warns that if the Tories lose in Eastleigh it will not be because of the candidate, or the chairman, or the strategy, but because of the lack of local grassroots support & volunteers. Shipping in every MP three times is fine but they don’t speak the language like local activists do. The Tories have no councillors here & in many areas of the country they are the third party. In seeking to broaden the party’s appeal, Cameron risks alienating the grassroots. He needs to appeal to local volunteers or he will lose the next elex (Tele)
Two years ago I asked Ofcom about the licence arrangements for existing Spectrum. Basically the existing regime gives it away for peanuts. The auction announcement now triggers the review mentioned below. In the last two years, the Treasury might have lost tens of millions of pounds of revenue as a result of the delay.
Here’s the extract:
Q60 Mr Watson: We have inherited responsibility for scrutinising Ofcom on spectrum matters. It is devilishly complex. I would like you to treat me like a novice when you answer these questions, if that is okay. I have read your Statement on the Variation of 900MHz and 1800MHz Wireless Telegraphy Act Licences document, dated 6 January. Essentially, what I think you have done there-tell me if I have read this wrong-the old 2G network has been souped up. You have turned it into a hybrid 3G network and, therefore, the value of that network has now increased. Am I right?
Ed Richards: That is one of the things we have done; it is pretty close. I would give it a slightly broader description. So firstly, there was a European requirement that that spectrum should be liberalised, which is the origin of it. Secondly, the Government then passed a direction essentially telling us to do it. We then did it, and the effect of that is to allow the use of the 2G for 3G purposes. That is clearly a consumer benefit because it is a better service, more people want it and you are not restricting the use to one thing.
Your question is about: is the effect of that to increase the value of that licence? In effect it is once it has been fully used for those services, and where we would pick that up, which is probably not in there but it is in the Government direction, is that we would expect to revise the fees paid by the mobile operators at 2G in light of the new market value for that spectrum. That will happen after the auction in the early part of next year.
Mr Watson: That is what I thought it said. Thank you.
Ed Richards: It absolutely is and they know that.
Q61 Mr Watson: The current users of that spectrum are O2 and Vodafone?
Ed Richards: That is correct.
Q62 Mr Watson: What fees do they pay now?
Ed Richards: I think it is about 60 million.
Q63 Mr Watson: Between the two of them?
Ed Richards: No, I think that might be per annum each, but can I come back to you on that?
Mr Watson: Yes, sure.
Ed Richards: Dredging from my memory, it is about 60.
Dr Bowe: That is the kind of order of magnitude, but we had better write to you about that.
Q64 Mr Watson: I also have your Consultation on assessment of future mobile competition and proposals for the award of the 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum. That is the recent one in March. Your market value for the 800 spectrum in this document is £200 million. Is that right?
Ed Richards: There are different values associated with different things, so I would have to check exactly which bit you are referring to, but tell me where you are heading.
Q65 Mr Watson: What I am trying to work out is: why haven’t you raised the fees now for Vodafone and O2? Given if there is an equivalent market that is worth about £200 million, those fees seem staggeringly low to me, and there is a taxpayer interest given that this spectrum is a public asset.
Ed Richards: It is a very good question and the answer is that the fees will absolutely rise, but we need a benchmark. We need something to assess how much they should rise by. The most obvious source of that is the auction proceeds, so we will know that-hopefully, if things go well-in the first quarter of next year. We will use that as a benchmark to say, “What is it appropriate for the fees to be?” I would expect it to be a multiple of the fees that they are paying today, so those fees will go up. Then the second-
Q66 Mr Watson: When you say “multiple” you mean at least double but possibly more than that?
Ed Richards: Possibly more than that. It will certainly be substantially higher than is currently the figure. Let me tell you why. We don’t know the result of our auction, but that will be the principal data point to benchmark. If for some reason our auction doesn’t work out in the way that we expect, which I have no reason to believe at the moment but let us suppose that were the case, then we also could refer back to other data from other markets where similar spectrum has also been valued in auctions. So we have a variety of ways of assessing it, and I would be very surprised if those numbers were not substantially higher than they are today.
The second question is: why don’t we levy it today? There are two reasons for that: first, we don’t have the most likely best data; and secondly, once we have that data then we can make a credible assessment. We have to have something to base it on that we believe robustly, and the UK market is the most relevant data. Then the question that would then be asked is: do we levy it retrospectively? Our understanding is that we do not have the power to raise fees retrospectively. That is a legal question as to whether we could or could not do that, and our understanding is that we can’t.
Q67 Mr Watson: I am really sorry about this, because my research has basically been done on Google so treat me like a novice. The Italians liberalised their market and they charge €64 million to each of the phone companies for doing the same thing. What you have just said to me is the value of this market has considerably increased. They will be paying staggeringly more money, perhaps in the region of tens of millions of pounds. They could have done it from January but because we don’t have the data we are going to leave it until the next quarter of next year. So would I be right in saying there is potentially a loss to the taxpayer, as a result of those actions, running into something like tens of millions of pounds?
Ed Richards: You can connect the two in that way. As I said, it is not that they are not paying; it is a question of how much.
Q68 Mr Watson: Not paying a fair rate. Let us face it, Vodafone hardly pay any tax in this country, so I think people would be upset that they are not paying adequate fees for the spectrum, which is the basis that their business is modelled on.
Ed Richards: That spectrum is definitely more valuable as a result of it and they are definitely going to pay substantially more for it. I think the legitimate question you are raising, which is: when does that start? I think in part that is something we would have to discuss with the Government, but we have looked at our own powers and our own powers are clear. We could not create an arbitrary number. We have to have a number that is based in something. The basis for that is obviously the 800MHz auction. Once we have that, we can apply it but our understanding is that we can’t apply that retrospectively. We can have another look at that and adjust it.
Q69 Mr Watson: We will come back to it, but in your document at 3.22 you say, “Ofcom does not consider it would be a good use of its limited resources to undertake a prior review in the interim.” Does that mean because of your cuts to your budget you have not done that assessment to work out what the figure is?
Ed Richards: We make a lot of administrative priority decisions now. I wouldn’t link it to the cuts in the budget, but I would certainly say I only have one team who is qualified and able to prepare that auction. So we are making a judgement about whether they should spend the next six months getting the auction ready and getting the spectrum out for consumers to use, or conducting an exercise that we would have to consult on, we would have to analyse responses on. There would be wildly differing views. O2 and Vodafone would say one thing; Three, Everything Everywhere would say something completely different. It would be a 12-month project and it would delay the auction probably by 12 months. That is a real-
Q70 Mr Watson: So it is not fair for me to say that the fees paid by O2 and Vodafone are tens of millions of pounds less than the market value you could command?
Ed Richards: I think they have only just begun to re-use it, O2 I think. I am not even sure Vodafone have actually begun yet. So it is a very fair question to ask and it is a very fair point to make. I genuinely think that. From our perspective, we face both a resource priority decision in the short term and then we will face a question in relation to whether we could impose it retrospectively. In terms of consumer benefit, the priority for us must be the auction because there is concern already that the UK will not have this spectrum available and for use for consumers quickly enough as things stand.
Q71 Mr Watson: Couldn’t the Treasury help you with a one-off investment in a bespoke assessment, which would ultimately benefit the Treasury probably by tens of millions of pounds?
Dr Bowe: You can see from our demeanour, Mr Watson, as we sit here that we think that is at the unlikely end of the spectrum.
Q72 Mr Watson: Colette, I am very disappointed with you today. You have given a concession to Louise Bagshawe on transparency on local radio, but you have given me nothing so far.
Dr Bowe: Well, when you are suggesting-
Mr Watson: I am trying to help you.
Dr Bowe: I know you are trying to help me and can I say I deeply appreciate it.
Mr Watson: Of course, yes, thank you.
Dr Bowe: I know that you are a very helpful person, but when you say, “Can we go to the Treasury and say, ‘Please can we have a handout so that we can do this?’” I can see a pig flying past the window.
Q73 Mr Watson: I am going to go to George Osborne and say, “Ofcom have told me they are losing tens of millions of pounds as a result of not charging Vodafone what they deserve to pay for their licence, because they don’t have the money because they are focusing on the auction”.
Ed Richards: We are focusing on the auction, but if O2 and Vodafone were here they would say, “We have scarcely got this going. It will not be fully operational for”-anyway, they can speak for themselves. It is an absolutely reasonable point to make. We have a range of choices we have to make, and you have highlighted the point in our document where we make the choice that the priority is to get the auction ready and get the spectrum out. That is absolutely correct and the consequences are the consequences.
Dr Bowe: Can I just add one point here in a very serious vein, which is: what Ed has described is something that we have to do all the time. You have to make choices about how you use your resources. This has nothing to do with the cuts we have had to make to our budget. We have always had to do that. There is an enormous number of things you could potentially do, and one of the things that Ed and his team and one of the things that the board has to do is constantly be thinking, “Where can we best use our resources, which have always been limited, to get the best results for consumers?” We have always had to do that.
Q74 Mr Watson: Would you ever ask the question: what is the taxpayer interest?
Dr Bowe: Sorry, say that again?
Mr Watson: Do you ask the question what is the taxpayer interest?
Dr Bowe: We ask the question: what is in the interests of consumers? Because that is what our primary statutory duty is, which is not the question that, as Ed says, the Treasury always asks. Mr Chairman, this is almost the first time I have had a chance to say this, this morning, our primary statutory duty is to consumers. So when we are thinking about these kinds of issues, about: where do we put resources, we have to put them in the place where consumers and citizens are likely to get the most result.
Mr Watson: I am looking forward to working with you on this, representing the interests of the taxpaying consumer, Colette. I won’t ask any more questions, but thank you.
Dr Bowe: Can I just mention, Chairman, there may well be other questions on spectrum, but you and I had a word about spectrum previous to this meeting. As a result of that we have arranged for a briefing for the Committee on spectrum issues, which I hope the Committee will find helpful. It is simultaneously somewhat complex but exceedingly important for the infrastructure of the country.
Chair: We are grateful for that and looking forward to it. In return, you may be aware that we are likely to have a formal inquiry into spectrum allocation.
Dr Bowe: We would welcome that, Chairman.
Q75 Chair: I expected no less. One other small question. You were talking about the balance of your interest being representing the consumer rather than the Treasury. Another aspect of this is that one of your prime purposes is the creation of a competitive market. We have already seen a reduction in the number of operators with the merger. When you come to conduct the auction, to what extent is the need to maintain four operators in this country, or maybe even more than four operators, one of the considerations?
Ed Richards: It is in many ways the most fundamental because I think only when you have made a judgement about that can you make a judgement about the auction design. We have said very clearly in our proposals that, in our view, the UK will be better off if we have four wholesale competitors as opposed to, say, three or two. Now, that is a view that is not universally held. There are many other countries with only three and some with two, but when we looked at the evidence on this we think that the UK consumer over the last 10 years has done pretty well on a comparative basis. Everybody has complaints of some sort about their contract or not-spots, and so on and so forth, but if you look at: availability, take up, pricing, innovation, a range of criteria, the UK mobile market delivers pretty well for the consumer on a comparative basis.
Our view is that one of the key reasons for that is that we have had more competition than some of the other markets. It is true we went from five to four and there were some reasons-we can go into that in more depth, if you would like to-but our view was that we should absolutely try and keep four. We should design the auction to support four and we should let competition unfold from there, but it is absolutely at the heart of how we were doing things. If you didn’t do that, in a sense, you might as well just have a spectrum free-for-all, but the consequence of a spectrum free-for-all, it is almost a racing certainty that you would move to three quite quickly and possibly to two in due course. I think consumers, both ordinary individuals and businesses, would pay for that in the long term.
Chair: We shall look forward to exploring these in more depth in due course.
BM: I’m here waiting for Maria Hutchings, the Conservative candidate.
MH: Hello …
BM: Hello …
MH: Sorry I’ve just had a tuna sandwich …
BM: I can’t smell a thing, it is fine. How is it going anyway?
MH: Oh it is hard work, but it is just such a privilege.
BM: It can be quite difficult, can’t it, just to get your face around everywhere?
MH: I actually have a big problem. When I go to get petrol, I go to the supermarket, it can take half an hour, three quarters of an hour to get a loaf of bread because I keep meeting people. You know, obviously I go to church here, I set up charities here. You know, I am on the management committee of the [inaudible] Centre for Disabled People. I’ve just done so much.
BM: She is a mother of four, straight talking, some say a loose cannon. She wants to leave the EU, would have voted against gay marriage, and is pro-life. They are issues of conscience, she says, and doesn’t want to bring them up now.
MH: Obviously, I am standing for Eastleigh and what I really would like the press to talk about is the issues that concern people here.
BM: I suppose they want to know about you as a person and whether some of those comments you have made in the past are thing you still believe in?
MH: Of what?
BM: 10 weeks for the limit for abortion?
MH: As I say, the issues here are about Eastleigh …
BM: But …
MH: I… to that question, I am a pro-lifer and I have answered the question. I want to move on. I think everybody at some point will say something that they are not sure they would say in the future. I mean, I’m sure you have said things …
BM: No, completely, and do you regret saying those things?
4. Any person who contravenes or fails to comply with any of the following provisions of Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002 shall be guilty of an offence —
(a)Article 14(1) (food safety requirements);
(b)Article 16 (presentation) in so far as it relates to food;
(c)Article 18(2) or (3) (traceability) in so far as it relates to food business operators;
(d)Article 19 (responsibilities for food : food business operators).
Here’s the Directive relating to the above law:
Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2002 laying down the general principles and requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Safety Authority and laying down procedures in matters of food safety Official Journal L 031 , 01/02/2002 P. 0001 – 0024
Relevant articles from the Directive:
Article 16 - Presentation
Without prejudice to more specific provisions of food law, the labelling, advertising and presentation of food or feed, including their shape, appearance or packaging, the packaging materials used, the manner in which they are arranged and the setting in which they are displayed, and the information which is made available about them through whatever medium, shall not mislead consumers.
Article 18 - Traceability
1. The traceability of food, feed, food-producing animals, and any other substance intended to be, or expected to be, incorporated into a food or feed shall be established at all stages of production, processing and distribution.
2. Food and feed business operators shall be able to identify any person from whom they have been supplied with a food, a feed, a food-producing animal, or any substance intended to be, or expected to be, incorporated into a food or feed.
To this end, such operators shall have in place systems and procedures which allow for this information to be made available to the competent authorities on demand.
3. Food and feed business operators shall have in place systems and procedures to identify the other businesses to which their products have been supplied. This information shall be made available to the competent authorities on demand.
4. Food or feed which is placed on the market or is likely to be placed on the market in the Community shall be adequately labelled or identified to facilitate its traceability, through relevant documentation or information in accordance with the relevant requirements of more specific provisions.
5. Provisions for the purpose of applying the requirements of this Article in respect of specific sectors may be adopted in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 58(2).
(ii)to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss.
(2)A representation is false if—
(a)it is untrue or misleading, and
(b)the person making it knows that it is, or might be, untrue or misleading.
(3)“Representation” means any representation as to fact or law, including a representation as to the state of mind of—
(a)the person making the representation, or
(b)any other person.
(4)A representation may be express or implied.
(5)For the purposes of this section a representation may be regarded as made if it (or anything implying it) is submitted in any form to any system or device designed to receive, convey or respond to communications (with or without human intervention).
3 Fraud by failing to disclose information
A person is in breach of this section if he—
(a)dishonestly fails to disclose to another person information which he is under a legal duty to disclose, and
(b)intends, by failing to disclose the information—
(i)to make a gain for himself or another, or
(ii)to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss.
The main criminal offences are Article 5 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
2008 Regs Art5.—(1) A commercial practice is a misleading action if it satisfies the conditions in either paragraph (2) or paragraph (3).
(2) A commercial practice satisfies the conditions of this paragraph—
(a)if it contains false information and is therefore untruthful in relation to any of the matters in paragraph (4) or if it or its overall presentation in any way deceives or is likely to deceive the average consumer in relation to any of the matters in that paragraph, even if the information is factually correct; and
(b)it causes or is likely to cause the average consumer to take a transactional decision he would not have taken otherwise.
(3) A commercial practice satisfies the conditions of this paragraph if—
(a)it concerns any marketing of a product (including comparative advertising) which creates confusion with any products, trade marks, trade names or other distinguishing marks of a competitor; or
(b)it concerns any failure by a trader to comply with a commitment contained in a code of conduct which the trader has undertaken to comply with, if—
(i)the trader indicates in a commercial practice that he is bound by that code of conduct, and
(ii)the commitment is firm and capable of being verified and is not aspirational,
and it causes or is likely to cause the average consumer to take a transactional decision he would not have taken otherwise, taking account of its factual context and of all its features and circumstances.
(4) The matters referred to in paragraph (2)(a) are—
(a)the existence or nature of the product;
(b)the main characteristics of the product (as defined in paragraph 5);
(c)the extent of the trader’s commitments;
(d)the motives for the commercial practice;
(e)the nature of the sales process;
(f)any statement or symbol relating to direct or indirect sponsorship or approval of the trader or the product;
(g)the price or the manner in which the price is calculated;
(h)the existence of a specific price advantage;
(i)the need for a service, part, replacement or repair;
(j)the nature, attributes and rights of the trader (as defined in paragraph 6);
(k)the consumer’s rights or the risks he may face.
(5) In paragraph (4)(b), the “main characteristics of the product” include—
(a)availability of the product;
(b)benefits of the product;
(c)risks of the product;
(d)execution of the product;
(e)composition of the product;
(f)accessories of the product;
(g)after-sale customer assistance concerning the product;
(h)the handling of complaints about the product;
(i)the method and date of manufacture of the product;
(j)the method and date of provision of the product;
(k)delivery of the product;
(l)fitness for purpose of the product;
(m)usage of the product;
(n)quantity of the product;
(o)specification of the product;
(p)geographical or commercial origin of the product;
(q)results to be expected from use of the product; and
(r)results and material features of tests or checks carried out on the product.
(6) In paragraph (4)(j), the “nature, attributes and rights” as far as concern the trader include the trader’s—
(f)affiliations or connections;
(g)ownership of industrial, commercial or intellectual property rights; and
(h)awards and distinctions.
(7) In paragraph (4)(k) “consumer’s rights” include rights the consumer may have under Part 5A of the Sale of Goods Act 1979(1) or Part 1B of the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982(2).
9. A trader is guilty of an offence if he engages in a commercial practice which is a misleading action under regulation 5 otherwise than by reason of the commercial practice satisfying the condition in regulation 5(3)(b).
13. A person guilty of an offence under regulation 8, 9, 10, 11 or 12 shall be liable—
(a)on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum; or
(b)on conviction on indictment, to a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both.
The story of Robbie Rogers, who has announced his retirement from football aged 25, is one that should deeply trouble the world of football. Despite 18 caps for his country, poor Robbie’s footnote in history will be that he is only the third professional football player to declare he is gay. Think about that for a moment. In the modern age, what primeval institutional pressures must be overwhelming young gay players such that they feel they still have to hide their sexuality?
Since poor old Justin Fashanu came out 23 years ago, only two players in the whole of football have declared they are gay.
Robbie said in his valedictory statement:
“[Now] my secret is gone, I am a free man, I can move on and live my life as my creator intended.”
It really is time football dealt with this. I hope these words will encourage the leaders of the game to give their players the freedom to be gay.