Patricia Gibson has welcomed moves by the UK Government to clamp down on nuisance calls by changing the law following a long campaign by the North Ayrshire and Arran MP.
Patricia Gibson MP’s Unsolicited Marketing Communications (Company Directors): Ten Minute Rule Bill was introduced to Parliament on 13 September and included provisions to hold company bosses personally responsible for nuisance calls, by giving the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) the power to take action against named company directors found to have made unsolicited marketing calls in breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003.
Following the debate in Westminster, UK Ministers have now agreed to Mrs Gibson’s demand to end the scourge of nuisance calls by legislating for company directors to be fined up to £500,000 each if they are found to be in breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. Prior to this, only businesses were liable for fines, many of which try to escape paying nuisance call penalties by declaring bankruptcy - a practice known as “phoenixing”- only to open up again under a new name.
“Nuisance callers blight our society and cause significant distress, particularly to elderly and vulnerable people. Such harassment is unacceptable, which is why, since my election last year I have vigorously pursued a positive resolution to this issue. I am delighted that the Government will now legislate and introduce the measures proposed in the ten minute rule bill I brought forward earlier last month. This will be an important step in tackling nuisance calls as company directors cannot now escape the consequences of their unlawful actions. The measure will come into force from spring 2017.”
Darren Shirley, Campaigns Manager Which? Added:
“This is a massive victory and would not have happened without Patricia Gibson MP’s support. It's good to see the Government has listened. This legislation will stop rogues dodging fines for bombarding consumers with nuisance calls and side-stepping the rules by closing one business and re-establishing a new one."
To date, fines totalling almost £3.7million have been issued to companies behind nuisance marketing. This year alone, the ICO has fined firms responsible for more than 70 million calls and nearly 8 million spam text messages. Over 114,000 nuisance calls and texts were reported to ICO in the first nine months of 2016.
Reporting a nuisance call is simple: visit the ICO website at www.ico.org.uk or call their helpline on 0303 123 1113 and they will take it from there.