An advert by the charity People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority for being misleading.
The advert, which was displayed on the sides of buses from February this year, urged people to stop wearing wool products because "wool is just as cruel as fur".
Ten people submitted complaints to the ASA after seeing the advert, according to a ruling from the regulator today, arguing that because sheep needed to be shorn for health reasons wool could not be compared to fur in terms of cruelty.
In a statement, Peta described the ASA’s verdict as "disappointing and confusing".
According to the ruling, Peta argued that the same abuses and suffering happened in the wool trade as in the fur trade, but the public were less informed about it.
The charity cited breeding practices aimed at creating an animal with the largest possible surface area, noisy surroundings and poor transport conditions as examples of the suffering experienced in the wool industry that could be compared to those in the fur industry.
It also claimed that some health practices carried out without painkillers could be considered cruel.
But the ruling said the general public was aware that in the fur industry animals were often kept in poor conditions and were killed for their fur, so they would interpret the advert as saying the conditions in which animals were kept and the methods for obtaining the wool were equally cruel.
However, the ruling said, consumers would not regard shearing sheep as being cruel.
"Sheep were not killed for their wool as animals were in the fur industry and there were standards in place relating to their general welfare including relating to the shearing process," it said.
The ASA ruled that the advert was misleading and should not be shown in its existing form.
A spokeswoman for Peta said: "The general public now understands that the fur industry is cruel to animals in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to, gratuitous violence by industry workers, genetically manipulating animals in ways that cause them distress, leaving them to suffer from horrific wounds and slaughtering them for human gain – and all this suffering has been documented in the wool trade too.
"Peta provided the Advertising Standards Authority with stacks of evidence backing this up, so its decision is both confusing and disappointing."
She said the charity would continue to urge "decent people" to avoid wool and would be running a modified version of the advert, which instead said "wool = cruelty to sheep".