The director of a lead generation company that was fined £200,000 for sending out thousands of spam text messages over personal injury, PPI and other claims, has now been disqualified as a director for six years for showing “disregard for the law”.
Leighton John Power, 37, of Swansea, was the sole director of Help Direct UK, which entered a creditors’ voluntary liquidation owing an estimated £342,447 – including the fine levied by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
Mr Power accepted that he caused Help Direct UK Ltd to contravene regulation 22 of the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 (PECR), which prohibit unsolicited texts.
The ICO received an initial 659 complaints regarding unsolicited texts and in February 2015 served the company with an enforcement notice, requiring it to comply with regulation 22 by 31 March 2015.
It did not do so, however, and thousands more complaints were received, leading to the £200,000 fine in October 2015.
A typical text said: “Its been signed off, we have 3886.41 in your name for the accident you had, for us to put in your bank. Now just fill out [web address].” The ICO said one complainant explained they had never had an accident and was worried someone may be fraudulently using their identity. Another was concerned they may have unknowingly caused an accident.
Help Direct entered the creditors’ voluntary liquidation six weeks later. The ICO was the largest creditor in the liquidation, and the penalty materially contributed to the insolvency.
Susan MacLeod, chief investigator at the Insolvency Service, said: “Individuals who demonstrate such disregard for the law are clearly not fit to be a director of a company. Company directors should note that the Insolvency Service will take action to protect the public where directors have failed to adhere to the law.
Andy Curry, enforcement manager at the ICO, said: “This shows that company directors cannot leave by the back door as my team is coming through the front door. It sends a clear message that the companies behind nuisance calls and texts will be held to account.”
A ban on cold-calling/texting has been urged by claimant groups as an alternative to the government’s proposed personal injury reforms.