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LONDON (Reuters) - It's the Santa Clause and its aim is to root out substandard Santas.

Jolly, bearded Father Christmas has been ordered to clean up his act or be forced to hang up his trademark red suit.
"We are trying to eradicate shoddy Santas," James Lovell of the Ministry of Fun agency told Reuters the day after a secret summit of Santas drew up guidelines for girth, beard length, attire, footwear and general demeanor.

"Santa is a magical and cuddly man, not a fat, smelly slob," said Lovell, whose agency fills 500 Santa positions a year. "I even saw a Santa last year wearing trainers (sneakers)."

From this December Santas -- who only substitute for the real thing when he is busy elsewhere -- must be neatly presented, have a bushy white beard no more than six inches long and a girth of no greater than 48 inches and no less than 46 inches.

"He must not smell of drink or body odor and his 'Ho! Ho! Ho!' must resonate deeply," Lovell added.
 
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