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Labour MP David Lammy fined £5,000 for making nuisance calls

Friday, March 11th 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Political groups have been warned to stay within the law after Labour MP David Lammy was fined £5,000 for making nuisance calls.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) took action against Mr Lammy after he instigated 35,629 calls over two days.

The calls played a recorded message urging people to back the Tottenham MP’s campaign to become the Labour candidate for the London mayoral election.

But calls that play a recorded message should only be made to people who have already given their permission to receive them – permission Mr Lammy didn’t have.

Following an investigation, the ICO said Mr Lammy had broken rules set out in the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations.

It said the calls, which were made in August 2015, were made using contact details of party members supplied by the Labour Party.

But crucially, said the ICO, Mr Lammy did not make additional checks to ensure he was able to contact people with recorded messages.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said the same rules apply to political groups canvassing for votes as to “salespeople offering a discount on double glazing”.

“If you want to call someone in this way, you must follow these rules. Mr Lammy did not, and that is why he has been fined.”

Mr Lammy said he fully accepted the ICO’s decision and apologised “unreservedly” to any Labour Party member or supporter who had felt upset at receiving an automated call from his campaign.

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

Not good enough

Mr Graham said it is not good enough to assume the people you are 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.”

News of Mr Lammy’s fine comes just weeks after Baroness Neville-Rolfe, the minister for data protection and nuisance calls, described nuisance calls as a form of harassment.

She said the government is exploring options for further regulation to help fight the “scourge” of unwanted marketing calls.

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