Court slams event promoters who falsely claimed John Howard endorsed expos
The Federal Court in Perth has declared two event promoters engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct after they falsely claimed politicians, including then prime minister John Howard, had endorsed their mining expo events.
Gregory John Millar and John Raymond Webb were found to have engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct over the promotion of two industry events, including the Aus Industry 05 event in Perth, the MineBox Expo in Perth in 2006, and the Sydney International Mining & Engineering Expo in 2006 (the event was known as SIMEX 06).
Millar, who carried on business as Australian Corporate Exhibitions, and Webb, who was the company's national events manager at the time, made a series of outlandish claims to promote the events. These claims included:
- That the then prime minister of Australia, John Howard, had provided a message of support or consented to the publication of a message of support in regards to SIMEX 06 when he had not.
- That the then premier of Western Australia, Geoff Gallop, had provided a message of support to MineBox 06 when he had not.
- That 30,000 visitors would attend Aus Industry 05 and at least 20,000 people were expected to attend MineBox 06 without reasonable grounds for those claims.
- That more than 2500 exhibitors were scheduled for Aus Industry 05, which was not the case.
The court placed injunctions on Millar and Webb, with the Justice restraining them from similar conduct in the future and ordering that they attend a trade practices compliance seminar. They were also ordered to pay the ACCC's costs and Millar was also ordered to publish a notice on the internet and in various newspapers.
ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said the case provides a warning to all event organisers about the dangers of over-promising and under-delivering.
"Industry expos are an important outlet for businesses to promote their range of goods and services to customers. Factors such as the expected visitor and exhibitor numbers and endorsement by prominent industry and community leaders are important considerations for a business which is deciding whether to exhibit."