Macmillan was among eight charities warned about a possible breach of the Telephone Preference Service rules

The cancer charity confirms that it was one of the major charities that received a letter from the Information Commissioner in 2014, but says that it was satisfied that it remained "fully compliant" with the rules

Macmillan Cancer Support logo
Macmillan Cancer Support logo

Macmillan Cancer Support was one of eight charities contacted by the Information Commissioner last year over concerns about the charity’s adherence to the Telephone Preference Service rules.

A spokeswoman for Macmillan said that the cancer charity had received an automated letter from the Information Commissioner's Office in March 2014, highlighting the regulator’s compliance guidance and advice.

She told Third Sector: "We reviewed our processes and contracts, something that we do continuously as standard practice, and were satisfied that we continue to be fully compliant."

A spokeswoman for the Information Commissioner's office said that the names of all eight charities had been submitted to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into charity fundraising, and will be published on the inquiry’s webpage soon.

The fact that the ICO had written to eight major charities in March 2014 because it was concerned they were ignoring the TPS was revealed by Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner, during an evidence session of the committee's inquiry into charity fundraising last week. Charities are prohibited from contacting people on the TPS list unless they have received explicit consent.

He said that at least one of the charities had been the focus of one of this year’s two Daily Mail investigations into potential data and privacy breaches by charities. The chairs of Oxfam, the RSPCA and the NSPCC, who also gave evidence during the session last Tuesday, said that they were not among the charities which had received a letter.

Save the Children, which the Daily Mail claimed in July had breached TPS rules, and the PDSA, which the newspaper alleged in September had sold the details of a man with dementia, also told Third Sector they were not among the charities that had been contacted. The British Red Cross, which was also implicated in the Daily Mail story in July, said that it "did not believe" that it was contacted by the ICO last year.

Responding to questions from the Conservative MP David Jones, a member of the select committee, Graham said during the evidence session that the charities that received the letter appeared to have ignored what the ICO had told them and carried on with their previous practices.

He said: "We had drawn particularly to their attention the fact that the Telephone Preference Service could not be overridden except with prior consent. To the extent that one of the problems that the Daily Mail was issuing was the frequent overriding of the Telephone Preference Service because of this concept of warm donors and so on, that was certainly very disappointing."

The ICO, which is carrying out investigations – Operation Cinnabar and Operation Linden – into whether the charities involved in the Daily Mail exposés broke the law, declined to disclose to Third Sector the names of the other charities it contacted in 2014.

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