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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 November 2005, 00:05 GMT
Murder e-mail advert criticised
Rory Blackhall
Rory's murder shocked the local community
A company which used the murder of West Lothian schoolboy Rory Blackhall to promote anti-truancy software has been criticised by the advertising watchdog.

The 11-year-old's body was found in woods in Livingston in August.

Four days later Anteon UK sent an e-mail to 340 councils to advertise a pupil e-registration system.

The Advertising Standards Authority said the move was potentially offensive and distressing to recipients. Anteon has expressed regret over the advert.

The e-mail stated: "Like everyone else, we were shocked and saddened by the apparent murder of the young schoolboy in West Lothian.

'Promotion tool'

"We believe that we can help reduce the possibility of such future tragedies and so wish to bring to your attention our new anti-truancy and first day contact system that is already in use by some schools in the UK."

A complainant said the e-mail was offensive and distressing because it used a recent probable murder as a means of promoting the software product.

The ASA upheld the complaint, saying the e-mail concentrated on truancy-reduction rather than the product's efficiency in reporting absenteeism.

Its adjudication said: "Because the case study was used prominently to promote the product, we considered that the e-mail was potentially offensive and distressing to recipients."

Advert withdrawn

Anteon had not shown that the e-registration system could help to prevent tragedy and should not repeat the claim, the ASA added.

Responding to the investigation, Anteon said it had withdrawn the advert as soon as it received a complaint.

The company argued there was no suggestion in its e-mail that the victim was a truant.

It did not intend to repeat the advert and regretted any offence caused, Anteon UK Ltd said.

The Anteon e-mail was dated August 25, 2005, the ASA said.

Rory disappeared on 18 August after being dropped off near his school by his mother. His body was found three days later.

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