Tories warned over 'crossing line' in phone calls to voters

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The Conservative Party has been warned over its use of a telephone call centre to contact voters in the run-up to the general election.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) found "two small sections" of the scripts supplied by the party crossed the line from legitimate market research into "unlawful" direct marketing.

The findings follow an undercover investigation by Channel 4 News which claimed workers at Blue Telecoms in Neath, South Wales, may have been carrying out paid canvassing, which is banned under electoral law.

The ICO's head of enforcement Steve Eckersley said: "We've found that two small sections of the written scripts used by those making the calls crossed the line from legitimate market research to unlawful direct marketing.

"We've stopped short of formal regulatory action because the overall campaign was genuine market research.

"The two sections we had concerns about were not enough to trigger formal enforcement action when considered along with the campaign as a whole.

"But we have been clear about what we expect in the future.

"We've warned the party that its campaigns must be rigorously checked for questions that fall outside the bounds of market research."

The Conservatives have always denied breaking the law, insisting the scripts it supplied were compliant with data protection and information legislation.