Northern Ireland

Funeral director's most qualified claim 'misleading'

Sign at Stephen McCosh's funeral parlour

A Belfast undertaker can no longer advertise himself as "Northern Ireland's most qualified funeral director".

The UK's advertising watchdog upheld a complaint over an advert taken out by Stephen McCosh in the regional press.

The Advertising Standards Authority said it implied he had more advanced qualifications than his rivals.

Mr McCosh, who has stood by the claim, said he was going to challenge the ruling.

However, until he can prove it, he has said he will remove adverts and signs that make the claim.

'No evidence'

The advertisement originally appeared in August 2018 and also included a list of Mr McCosh's qualifications - the letters he has after his name.

Dignity Funerals, which has several firms in Northern Ireland, challenged the "most qualified" catch line.

Mr McCosh, who is based on the Shankill Road in west Belfast, told the authority there were two formally-recognised qualifications in the industry - the Diploma in Funeral Services and the Diploma in Funeral Directing - which are administrated by separate industry bodies.

Image caption Stephen McCosh said he would go back and talk to the watchdog

He said some funeral directors in Northern Ireland held one or other of the qualifications, but he was the only person to hold both.

No evidence was provided to show that was the case, the watchdog said.

'Anyone to see'

While acknowledging that Mr McCosh held both the qualifications, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said someone who held both qualifications would not necessarily have been more qualified than someone who held just the higher qualification - the Diploma in Funeral Services.

"For that reason and, because Stephen McCosh Funeral Directors had been unable to show that their competitors did not hold the same level of qualifications as Stephen McCosh, we concluded that the claim had not been substantiated and was misleading," the watchdog ruled.

"I find it hard to see how they do disagree. There is only two recognised qualifications… I hold both," Mr McCosh told BBC News NI.

"If they had examined the list from both of those organisations they would have seen the only name that ties in with both is myself.

"I think we need to go back and have another look at it, and have another chat with them to see exactly what evidence they want me to produce because it is there.

"It is there for anyone to see."

Related Topics

More on this story