Company closure and 4-year ban for director after marketing regulation breach

A director of a lead generating service has been banned for four years after failing to ensure his company complied with text message regulations

Lad Media Limited, a lead generation and data brokerage business operating in the financial services sector declared on their website that they were an “ICO regulated partner”, and thus permitted to offer lead generation and data services to other organisations within the financial industry.

However, the company took the attention of the ICO following complaints made by over 100 people were sent to the industry text message reporting service.

Subsequent investigations on the part of the ICO revealed that between 6th January 2016 and 11th February 2016, over 393,000 SMS messages were sent to members of the public, including to individuals whom had withdrawn their consent regarding the receipt of marketing texts or calls.

A number of the complaints brought to the ICO came from individuals stating that the text messages had resulted in them suffering distress and harassment.

The ICO notified Lad Media about the complaints and that they constituted a breach in regulations under privacy and electronic communications regulation. However, the firm protested, and said that the data list they used had been purchased through a data supplier and that the text messages were sent on its behalf and by another third party.

Irrespective of Lad Media’s claim that the illegal marketing had not been their fault, but was instead due to the actions of third parties, the ICO imposed a fine of £20,000.

The company, of which Manchester’s Keith Nicholas was the sole director, was unable to pay the debt and a winding-up order was issued in April 2018. Lad Media was subsequently shut down on the petition of the ICO.

In a subsequent investigation conducted by the Insolvency Service, it was found that Keith Hancock had played a central role in the marketing regulation breach, prompting the 51-year-old to submit a disqualification undertaking to the Secretary of State on 23rd January 2019.

Mr Hancock did not dispute that he had failed to ensure Lad Media complied with regulations when the company sent over 393,000 unsolicited communications, with some being delivered to individuals that had not given their consent.

As of 13th February 2019, Keith Hancock is banned for four years from directly or indirectly becoming involved, without court permission, 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.


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