Yes, size matters - the law says so!

Thank goodness solicitors can find Professional indemnity insurance at!

It’s easy to imagine the excitement at winning a Renault Clio in a radio competition, but how would you feel if, instead of winning the real thing, you were handed a 4-inch toy? This is what happened to Cathy McGowan, of Buxton in June 1999, when she won the prize through picking out the correct name after listening to a jumbled-up rendition of a Geri Halliwell song.

Video shop manager, 26 year old Cathy McGowan, who was also mum to a 7 year old daughter at the time, turned up at Radio Buxton shortly after winning the competition to be presented with her car, fully expecting to be given the keys to a brand new full size vehicle. To her shame and horror, Chris Constantine, the show’s presenter, handed her a 4-inch replica!

Ordered to pay compensation

When the case went to court in 2001, her solicitors argued that size does matter when it comes to promises of a car. The judges agreed and ordered the radio station involved in the debacle to provide plaintiff Cathy McGowan with full compensation to the tune of £8,000.

After hearing the verdict from the court, Miss McGowan said she was delighted but had to wait for a follow-up hearing to find out who exactly would be funding her £8,000 win. Undaunted, she popped off straightaway to visit a Renault dealership to look at a new Clio.

Taking the mickey

Speaking at the hearing, Miss McGowan's legal representatives said there was a principle at stake and she believed the radio station had acted cruelly, making a fool of her and leading her to believe a real car was on offer. She genuinely believed she had won a real car and added that, as mum to a youngster, a brand new vehicle would have made a huge difference to her lifestyle.

Initially she’d complained to the radio station’s management, Paul and Steve Jenner, who’d tried to appease her by offering a watered down alternative prize of a meal voucher and tickets to a kids’ show. In their defence, the radio station tried to claim Miss McGowan had been stupid to believe in the joke. Judge James Orrell, however, didn’t uphold their defence and told them they were legally bound to provide Miss McGowan with the prize that had been promised. He said it was clear that the show’s presenter was trying to trick as many listeners as possible that a real car was on offer to boost the show’s following.

Illuminating transcript

The court had heard a transcript of the show and ruled that, at no stage, was it mentioned that the car might not be real. Miss McGowan had clearly been mislead and deceived and the radio station was shamed for their dishonest actions. The station had breached the Radio Authority’s rules governing the running of competitions on air. The show’s presenter, Constantine, was clearly a little unhinged as he’d also enticed listeners to compete for a model Ferrari and a packet of crisps in a separate promotion!

Paul and Steve Jenner sacked Constantine following the court verdict and, shortly afterwards, Radio Buxton went off air for good. Could professional indemnity insurance have saved it, I wonder?

Contact: david (at)