'Truth' behind bizarre billboards is 'bunkum'

The strange billboard on display in Belfast
Paul Ainsworth

MYSTERIOUS billboards across Britain about 'legal name fraud' have popped up on advertising hoarding in Belfast.

The posters have appeared on numerous billboard spaces across the city, prompting speculation on social media about what they mean and who is responsible for them.

Declaring that ‘It is illegal to use a legal name’, the billboards have been on display for several months in England and Wales, but in recent weeks have appeared at prominent sites in Belfast.

The adverts have been linked to a bizarre online movement proclaiming a theory that once a person’s name is registered at birth, both it and the individual become the legal property of the Crown.

A website seemingly linked to the billboard posters contains rambling text from a “Kate of Gaia” which appears to claim that by registering a child’s name at birth, the parents are offering their offspring as a “sacrifice to Satan”. Links on the site describe Kate of Gaia as a Belfast-based “freelance investigative journalist”.

The ads are hosted by firms including Clear Channel NI, who told the Irish News they could not comment on who was paying for the posters due to “client confidentiality”.

However despite the bold legal claims referred to on the billboards, they should be ignored, according to Jack Anderson, a professor of law at Queen’s University Belfast.

“Not much is known about these ads but they appear to be related to a movement, likely originating in Canada, that appear to claim that because a person does not choose their own name at birth, it provides a mechanism to get out of legal difficulty, whether it be anything from a parking ticket to divorce proceedings. It’s complete bunkum,” he said.

“It seems to be offering a false promise with no legal grounding whatsoever. My advice for people is to ignore this completely.”

Associate Director in the Intellectual Property team at legal firm Tughans, Andrew Kirke, added: “There doesn’t appear to be any merit at all in the argument that a person or their name becomes the legal property of the Crown when their parents complete their birth certificate at birth. As far as legal conspiracy theories go, it’s one of the most unusual we’ve ever come across.”

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