THE LABOUR PARTY has been urging people to vote for them in breach of privacy rules, the information watchdog ruled today. They called 495,000 people, despite having agreed not to use unsolicited, automated telephone calls in the campaign.
People receiving the calls heard a message recorded by actress Liz Dawn, who played Vera Duckworth in Coronation Street, urging them to vote in the local and European elections last year.
Deputy Information Commissioner, David Smith, said that the calls could ‘cause annoyance and disruption’ to the recipients. He ordered the party to ensure that no further automated direct marketing calls be made without consent, and he warned that failure to comply would be a criminal offence that could lead to prosecution.
Mr Smith said: “The Information Commissioner’s Office has consistently made clear that the promotion of a political party counts as marketing. We have previously issued detailed guidance to all major political parties on this subject. The Labour Party has breached privacy rules by making automated calls to individuals who have not consented to receiving such calls.
“The fact that the calls were targeted at what were believed to be Labour-supporting areas confirmed our view that they were designed to promote the Labour Party’s electoral cause by encouraging Labour supporters to vote. Automated calls can cause annoyance and disruption, which is why it is so important for organisations making such calls to gain the consent of individuals.”
It has 28 days to appeal against the enforcement notice under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, which the Labour Government itself brought in in 2003. A party spokesman said: “The Labour Party considered advice from the Information Commissioner’s Office prior to making these calls and believed that we had abided by this advice.
So it seems that they had agreed not to make this type of call, that it had been made clear that this type of call was marketing and that they had breached the rules despite clear advice which they had been given about their own privacy laws!.
You really couldn’t make this load of chancers up. We’d best prepare ourselves for a very nasty election campaign.