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Bookmakers' Oscar Pistorius advert broke industry rules

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Mar 19, 2014 | 9:49am EDT

Bosses of a British bookmakers have been censured by an advertising watchdog for urging customers to bet on the outcome of the Oscar Pistorius murder trial. Officials at Paddy Power placed an advert in a U.K. newspaper featuring the paralympic athlete's face superimposed on an Academy Award Oscar trophy, alongside the slogans, "It's Oscar time", "Money back if he walks", and "We will refund all losing bets on the Oscar Pistorius trial if he is found not guilty". The commercial attracted more than 5,500 complaints from outraged readers who accused the company of trivialising a murder trial, disability, and the death of victim Reeva Steenkamp. A probe was launched by Britain's Advertising Standards Authority and bosses announced on Wednesday (19Mar14) that the advert, which ran on the eve of the trial, is ruled to have fallen foul of the industry's strict guidelines. The ruling states, "We considered the ad, in particular the text... was likely to be interpreted as making light of the issues surrounding the trial, which included the death of a woman who had been shot by her boyfriend. We also considered the text... was likely to be seen as making light of the serious decision making process involved in that trial. We therefore considered the ad went further than simply being in poor taste and that it was likely to cause serious or widespread offence by trivialising the sensitive issues surrounding the murder trial." Paddy Power bosses have been ordered not to re-run the ad and to ensure a similar mistake is not made in future. Pistorius is on trial for murdering his model girlfriend Steenkamp at his apartment in South Africa last year (13). He denies the charge, insisting he shot her through a door because he thought she was a burglar.

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