MP Fined for Unauthorised Telemarketing Campaign

An MP has been fined by the Information Commissioner for contacting members of the public who were members of a political party, without seeking their prior specific consent.

Labour MP David Lammy has expressed his apologies after being issued with a fine of £5,000 for instigating 35,629 nuisance calls which aimed to encourage people to support his bid to become London’s Mayor.

The main point of concern with the incident was that the people who received Mr Lammy’s calls in August 2015 had not provided their prior consent to receive them. The contact details of the party members were provided by the Labour Party and Mr Lammy failed to conduct the required additional checks to ensure he was allowed to contact the people with recorded messages. Mr Lammy had failed to comply with the rules set out in the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations (PECR) according to the Information Commissioner’s Office investigation.

The ICO stated, “It’s not good enough to assume the people you’re contacting probably won’t mind. The law requires you to have permission before making calls with recorded messages. And if the law isn’t followed, the regulator will act….Mr Lammy’s team should have known there were special controls in place around calls with recorded messages. Not only have we published detailed guidance on political campaigning on our website, but we have contacted political parties directly to remind them of the rules.”

Mr Lammy commented, “If I had known that additional permission was required to make automated calls then I would have sought it before any calls were made.”

The incident serves as a prominent reminder of the compliance standards expected from the ICO in relation to the PECR. Any organisation or business thinking of contacting members of the public, clients or service users about their products, services or where campaigning on a particular issue should carefully consider they have obtained the necessary consent from the data subject prior to doing so. Failing to do so is likely to result in a fine as demonstrated by this case. This includes housing associations who may contact their tenants in relation to products they may be offering following diversification of their business such as gardening maintenance or repairs which they are not required to provide by the terms of the tenancy.

Forbes Solicitors regularly advise on a range of issues relating to data protection and information law and practice. If you have a question or require advice in this area, please contact Daniel Milnes.

Nat Avdiu

About Nat Avdiu

Nat Avdiu is a Paralegal in the Contracts and Projects team at Forbes Solicitors. Nat provides updates for clients on a range of issues including: governance, data protection and freedom of information, procurement and charity law.
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