MPs criticise advertising company after hostage awareness campaign dropped

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MPs criticise advertising company after hostage awareness campaign dropped

London Lites pulled digital billboards six days into planned two-week campaign citing concerns for 'community safety'

London Lite campaign digital billboard
London Lite campaign digital billboard

An advertising company “played into the hands of terrorists” by pulling out of a campaign highlighting awareness of people kidnapped by Hamas, MPs have heard.

Conservative former minister Sir Michael Ellis called for a Commons debate on “anti-Jewish business decisions” as he criticised London Lites.

Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt said it was “depressing” to hear of the situation and advised the company to “reflect” on its decision.

The Israeli embassy to the UK previously criticised the company for not continuing with the digital campaign to show images of those people kidnapped by Hamas and still held hostage.

London Lites said it ceased advertising on “community cohesion grounds” following discussions with the Metropolitan Police and the company has written to Sir Michael and Ms Mordaunt to offer them a briefing.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Sir Michael said: “Can we have a debate on anti-Jewish business decisions in the United Kingdom?

“An advertising company called London Lites had a contract with families of Israeli hostages to display pictures of hostages on their electronic billboards in London.

London Lite campaign digital billboard

“Under antisemitic pressure, the company has breached the contract and taken down the adverts, denying a voice to hostages and their families, and playing into the hands of terrorists.

“No doubt anything else whatsoever can be advertised on these billboards, apart from Jewish victims of terrorism.

“What can be done about this scandal?”

Ms Mordaunt replied: “This is so depressing to hear and I thank (Sir Michael) for raising it.

“Businesses have to operate in complex environments, the situation going on at the moment in Israel and Gaza is highly complex, there are different views across this House and across the country about what is going on, complex situations.

“But there are some things which are really simple. Standing in support of those hostages, nine of which are children who still remain in Hamas’s hands, and showing them support and keeping those people in the public eye, that is a good thing to do, it’s not a difficult decision to arrive at that conclusion.

“I would just hope that this company will reflect on what it has done, reflect on the reputational damage I think it has done itself and I would encourage all of us – whether we are businesses or individuals – to show compassion and, particularly over the festive period, keep a spotlight on these poor souls.”

A spokesperson for London Lites said: “Following discussions with the Metropolitan Police about community safety concerns regarding billboard sites advertising this campaign, we have regrettably taken the decision to cease advertising on community cohesion grounds.

“London Lites previously carried advertising for the Campaign Against Antisemitism and supports freedom of speech. However, we received an unprecedented number of concerns from the public in response to the advertising campaign last week, and the safety of all members of the local communities where we advertise is paramount.”

In response to the remarks made by MPs, the spokesperson said: “This was a very difficult decision in a highly complex context, with community safety at stake.

“We understand the strength of feeling and have written to Sir Michael Ellis and Penny Mordaunt to offer them a full briefing, so they are furnished with the facts in advance of any further intervention.”

It is understood the client was Hostages and Families Forum UK and the campaign was expected to run for two weeks.

London Lites has denied being in breach of contract and is understood to have informed the client it will not charge them for the six days that the campaign ran for.

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