Google ‘party to fraud’ by accepting adverts through Viagogo agents, says MP

Tech giant Google is colluding in “fraud” over the resale of tickets, an MP has claimed.

Tory MP Damian Collins asked why the firm was still taking money from ticket site Viagogo during Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) questions in the commons.

DCMS Minister Tracey Crouch was notably absent from the chamber after a trip to the US.

She is said to be on the brink of quitting over the delay to gambling curbs announced in the Budget.

Ms Crouch’s colleague Margot James fielded questions over how Viagogo, which is being taken to court for a catalogue of consumer rights breaches by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), was still operating.

Mr Collins, MP for Folkestone and Hythe, said: “Would she accept that Google is accepting adverts though Viagogo agents that are in breach of consumer protection law and Google’s own terms of service as well?

“They are effectively taking money for being party to a fraud by allowing those adverts to run.”

Ms James responded: “I absolutely sympathise with his point of view and I have had discussions with Google on this very point.

“I think it’s safe to say we have a difference of view but we remain optimistic that the search engines will comply with their own terms and conditions in the end.”

Labour MP Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) said it could not be right that Viagogo was still in the top two search results 80% of the time.

She said: “Time and again people are telling me they were directed to Viagogo by a Google search.

“Does she think it’s appropriate that Viagogo is facing court action but are still able to buy themselves to the top of the search?”

Ms James said the point was “very good” but signalled her hands were tied to some extent.

“She might be interested to know the Advertising Standards Agency ruled, however, that consumers would not assume Viagogo was a primary ticket agent for the event and therefore there was nothing in the advert to claim it was primary,” Ms James said.

“But Google conditions state that resellers must prominently disclose themselves as a reseller so she can draw her own conclusions from that.”