The boss of a company which has overturned a £60,000 spam text fine on appeal has accused the Information Commissioner’s Office of taking a “cavalier approach” to its investigation.
Bridgend-based STS Commercial was hit with the fine in July after being found guilty of allowing its lines to be used to send texts promoting payday loans to more than 270,000 people in a three-month period between November 2016 and January 2017.
However, the company took the case to the First Tier Information Rights Tribunal, which ruled in its favour. The ICO conceded that “further information was uncovered through the appeal process”, even though it did not elaborate.
A statement on the ICO website said: “STS Commercial appealed that penalty and upon considering the grounds of appeal, the ICO accepts that the appeal should be allowed and no monetary penalty should be imposed. The ICO apologises to STS Commercial.”
But STS Commercial director William Sinclair has been highly critical. He said: “We’ve always maintained that we did not do anything wrong. The conduct of the ICO’s dealings fell short of what would be expected from an ICO investigation. The decision to impose the monetary penalty was unreasonable in the circumstances and the conduct of its inquiries and the cavalier approach caused damage to our reputation, and could have resulted in the loss of jobs.
“It’s a crazy world we live in, where the regulator can issue fines without evidence, instead of first having a simple conversation to resolve any issues. Spending money on legal costs defending yourself against an unjust action makes for a hollow victory, but in principle we have stood up for all businesses regarding their information rights.”
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