Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/02/09/labour_phonespam_ruling/

Labour Party told to stop spam-calls

While Tory MP hunts for missing emails

By John Oates

Posted in Law, 9th February 2010 14:40 GMT

The Information Commissioner's Office has told the Labour Party to stop using automated telephone diallers to contact people without their permission.

In 2007 the party used a recorded message from Corrie's Vera Duckworth - or rather Liz Dawn, the actress who played her - to rally voters for the elections.

The ICO received complaints about Vera's marketing calls. It told the Labour Party that the messages were direct marketing and should stop. Organisations should not make such calls without the consent of the person they are phoning.

The Labour Party agreed to stop but in June 2009 the ICO received more complaints, from the SNP and a voter, about the use of the recording in the local and European elections. The Labour Party admitted making calls to 495,000 people. It said it bought the numbers and names from commercially available lists.

The ICO will now serve Labour with an enforcement notice. The Party has 28 days to appeal the ruling. Otherwise it should tread carefully - failure to obey an enforcement notice is a criminal offence.

In other news, the ICO has promised to investigate allegations made by Tory MP Justine Greening that the Department of Transport deleted emails she'd requested about the expansion of Heathrow Airport.

Greening made a Freedom of Information request to the DfT, asking for the information. However, she then noticed strange gaps in the correspondence and email conversations that apparently ended without resolution.

The ICO said it had received Greening's complaint and was talking to the DfT and BAA to get more information.®