Manchester’s Keith Nicholas Hancock (51) was the sole director of a Lad Media Limited, a lead generation and data brokerage business operating in the financial services, debt management and consumer claim sectors.
Incorporated in April 2013, Lad Media declared on their website that they were an ‘ICO regulated partner’ and authorised to provide lead generation and data to the financial services sector.
However, the company came to the attention of the ICO after more than 100 people complained to the industry text message reporting service.
Further investigations by the ICO found that between 6 January 2016 and 11 February 2016, more than 393,000 SMS messages were sent to members of the public, including those who had specifically removed their consent to receive marketing calls or texts.
Some of the complaints received by the ICO were from people who had said they suffered distress and harassment as a result of the text messages.
The ICO informed Lad Media about the complaints and that they had breached the regulations covering privacy and electronic communications. But the company protested explaining that the data list was purchased through a data supplier and the text messages were sent on its behalf by another third party.
Despite the company’s protestations that it was not their fault but down to the actions of third parties, the ICO issued a £20,000 fine. However, the company failed to pay the debt and a winding-up order was made in April 2018, which saw Lad Media shut down on the petition of the ICO.
Following referrals from the ICO, further investigations were conducted by the Insolvency Service to assess Keith Hancock’s activities and how he had contributed to cause Lad Media to breach direct marketing regulations.
Investigators concluded that Keith Hancock played a central role, which led him to submit a disqualification undertaking to the Secretary of State on 23 January 2019.
Within the undertaking, Keith Hancock did not dispute that he had failed to ensure Lad Media complied regulations when the company sent more than 393,000 unsolicited communications, with some reaching people who had not consented to receive such messages.
Effective from 13 February 2019, Keith Hancock is banned for four years from directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company.
David Brooks, Chief Investigator for the Insolvency Service, said:
There is clear guidance on the internet about what communications you can send to people when it comes to marketing so there is no excuse about not knowing what your responsibilities are.
Keith Hancock clearly failed to ensure Lad Media carried out sufficient checks on who was being sent direct marketing, even if it was done by a third party, and thanks to the joint work with the ICO, we have secured a ban appropriate for the seriousness of the offence.
Andy Curry, ICO Investigations Group Manager, said:
By working closely with The Insolvency Service we have been successful in stopping the unscrupulous activities of company directors like Keith Hancock who cause upset and distress to millions of people who are on the receiving end of this kind of illegal marketing activity.
Our powers to protect the public from companies like theirs making nuisance calls and sending spam texts, have recently been made stronger than ever as we can now make directors and managers of the companies responsible personally liable for fines of up to £500,000. This will help stop them closing down one rogue company and setting up in business again.
Notes to editors
Guidance on the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) regulations are available from the ICO.
Keith Nicholas Hancock is of Manchester and his date of birth is January 1968.
Company: Lad Media Limited (Company Registration No: 08509369).
A disqualification order has the effect that without specific permission of a court, a person with a disqualification cannot:
- act as a director of a company
- take part, directly or indirectly, in the promotion, formation or management of a company or limited liability partnership
- be a receiver of a company’s property
Disqualification undertakings are the administrative equivalent of a disqualification order but do not involve court proceedings.
Persons subject to a disqualification order are bound by a range of other restrictions.
The Insolvency Service administers the insolvency regime, investigating all compulsory liquidations and individual insolvencies (bankruptcies) through the Official Receiver to establish why they became insolvent. It may also use powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK. In addition, the agency deals with disqualification of directors in corporate failures, assesses and pays statutory entitlement to redundancy payments when an employer cannot or will not pay employees, provides banking and investment services for bankruptcy and liquidation estate funds and advises ministers and other government departments on insolvency law and practice.
Further information about the work of the Insolvency Service, and how to complain about financial misconduct, is available.
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