Vote Leave might have got away with its controversial battle bus but, when it comes to illegal marketing, it has found there is no escaping the wrath of the Information Commissioner’s Office after being fined £40,000 for sending tens of thousands of unsolicited texts.
An ICO investigation found that Vote Leave sent 196,154 text messages promoting the aims of the Leave campaign in the run-up to the 2016 EU Referendum, with the majority containing a link to its website.
The investigation also found that Vote Leave was unable to provide evidence that the people who received the messages had given their consent; a key requirement of electronic marketing law.
ICO director of investigations Steve Eckersley said: “Spam texts are a real nuisance for millions of people and we will take action against organisations who disregard the law.
“Direct marketing is not just about selling products and services, it’s also about promoting an organisation’s aims and ideals. Political campaigns and parties, like any other organisations, have to comply with the law.”
Vote Leave claimed the information it had used to contact people was obtained from enquiries which had come through its website; from individuals who had responded via text to promotional leaflets; and from entrants to a football competition.
However, the organisation said that following the conclusion of the referendum campaign it had deleted evidence of the consent relied upon to send the messages. Also deleted were details of the phone numbers the messages were sent from, the volume of messages sent, and the volume of messages received.
Last month, the Leave.EU campaign and Brexiteer Arron Banks’ insurance company Eldon were been fined a total of £120,000 for flouting direct marketing rules. The fines were first flagged up in November last year.
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