POLITICS

Sajid Javid 'Out Of Touch' For Ruling Out Ticket Tout Crackdown, Say MPs

25/04/2014 11:38 BST | Updated 25/04/2014 11:59 BST
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Culture secretary Sajid Javid has been accused by MPs of being "out of touch with ordinary fans" for refusing to regulate second-hand ticket sales in a bid to stop "industrial-scale touting".

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse has released a report urging the government to bring in new measures to force second-hand resale websites to reveal information about vendors, including if they are selling many more tickets for the same event.

The group also proposed that compensation should be guaranteed to people who fall victim to ticket scams or cancelled tickets by buying them through resale websites and a "national police agency" should track down and prosecute those responsible.

However, a spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said that the government had "no plans to introduce new regulations on the secondary ticket market."

Javid, who was appointed culture secretary earlier this month, sparked outrage among arts organisations and sports groups when it emerged he had previously praised touts as "classic entrepreneurs" and dismissed their critics as "champagne socialists".

"If the tout has come by his tickets in an honest way and offers a genuine service with a real risk of loss in the pursuit of profit, that is not a problem," he said in a debate in 2011.

Labour MP Sharon Hodgson, co-chair of the APPG, condemned Javid's department for refusing to take action.“This shows how out of touch the culture secretary is with ordinary culture fans," she told HuffPostUK.

“Years of inaction from the government have got us to where we are today: a market which operates primarily in the interests of a few shady touts.

“The Police, the live event industry, consumers and now a cross-party group of MPs are all saying this market needs greater transparency and consumer protection.

"It’s greatly disappointing that the Government continue to ignore those calls, rather than engage meaningfully with our sensible suggestions.”

Ticketmaster, the online ticket sale giant, said it was dismayed at the APPG's "biased and one-sided" report into the industry.

Christoph Homann, managing director for Ticketmaster Resale, said: "The APPG on Ticket Abuse have not listened to industry advice. They've ignored the facts and the lessons to be learnt from other markets where onerous legislation has pushed the resale market underground or offshore, exposing fans to fraudulent cyber touts.

"Fans should not be put in a position where they end up buying tickets on the street and from unsecure sites. We have responded to what fans want by creating a safe, transparent and lawful environment for the buying and selling of tickets.

"With its raft of recommendations, the APPG is only serving to harm the secondary ticketing industry, and more importantly, the fans."

Javid and his department's stance on ticket touts has drawn warnings from groups like the Royal Opera House.

Willy Donaghy, senior official for the arts and entertainment of media trade union BECTU, said: “In our view, ticket touts are economic parasites who contribute nothing whatsoever to the creation and staging of new arts events.

"By creaming off billions of pounds from the pool of private money available for spending on culture, touts are depriving the arts sector of badly-needed income at a time when public funding is in steep decline. They could help to kill off parts of the industry that is currently providing their ill-gotten gains.”

A DCMS spokesperson said: "We continue to encourage improvements so all customers can purchase tickets in a secure environment.

"We have encouraged event organisers to work with ticketing agents to increase controls to limit secondary sales. These could include using bar-coding technology, named tickets and staggered ticket release. And we welcome official resale platforms and fan to fan ticket websites that give genuine fans the opportunity to buy and resell tickets at face value or less."