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Speaking at the Labour Creatives Conference today, a day after two people were prosecuted for their involvement in a £6.5m fraudulent ticket re-sale operation, Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer has announced plans to clean up the UK’s secondary ticketing market.

Labour has announced a policy commitment to introduce new legislation to cap resale prices of tickets, limit the number of tickets people can resell, and to make platforms such as Viagogo accountable for the provenance of tickets they list.

Starmer said, “A Labour government will cap resale prices so fans can see the acts that they love at a fair price. Arts for the people and by the people. This is something I don’t think the Tories understand. Look how the Tory culture secretary in 2014 – if you can cast your mind back a dozen culture secretaries or so – said that only the ‘chattering middle classes and champagne socialists’ care about ticket prices.”

The Labour Party’s promised measures include strengthening consumer rights legislation to restrict the resale of tickets at more than a small, set percentage over the price the original purchaser paid for it, and to limit the number of tickets individual resellers can list to the number of tickets that individuals can legitimately buy via the original platform.

Labour said platforms will be held accountable for the accuracy of information about tickets they list for sale and ensure that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has the powers that it needs to take swift, decisive action against platforms and touts, to protect consumers.

In 2021, the CMA recommended stronger laws were introduced to protect consumers from rogue ticket traders. However, without consultation, the UK Government dismissed the CMA’s proposals in May last year.

Campaign group FanFair Alliance welcomed today’s announcement by Starmer. The Alliance was established by the Music Managers Forum (MMF) in July 2016 and has been backed by some of the biggest names in music, including managers and teams for artists such as Arctic Monkeys, Ed Sheeran, PJ Harvey, Keane, Noel Gallagher, Radiohead, Biffy Clyro, Iron Maiden, Niall Horan, Mumford & Sons and Pixies.

Ed Sheeran’s manager Stuart Camp said, “This is fantastic news. We have spent years fighting the scourge of online ticket touting and keeping prices fair for fans. The impact of these policies should be monumentally positive and help to reset the UK’s live music market for the benefit of artists and their audiences.”

Wildlife Entertainment CEO Ian McAndrew, whose company manages acts including Arctic Monkeys, Fontaines D.C. and Royal Blood was among the many others to welcome the news. He said, “As a founder member of the FanFair Alliance, we have campaigned for over a decade to encourage change while introducing measures to try and protect fans. The introduction of new legislation will better protect fans from the unscrupulous practices of online touts.”

Virgin Media O2 director of partnerships and sponsorship Gareth Griffiths said O2 has been part of the FanFair Alliance since 2017 with the aim of protecting its customers from online touts during ticket presales: “We’ve seen the secondary market swamped with over-inflated, sky-high ticket resale prices for years, with no benefit for artists or their fans. Legislation would be a crucial step forward and through our continued work with FanFair Alliance we’re pleased to see this issue getting the attention and action it deserves.”

The announcement follows yesterday’s conviction of two people for their part in fraudulently trading £6.5 million worth of concerts tickets for shows by acts including Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga and Little Mix.

 Mark Woods, 59 and Lynda Chenery, 54, were convicted at Leeds Crown Court for their involvement in nefarious ticketing operation TQ Tickets Ltd, which sold £6.5m of tickets during a two-and-a-half-year period on secondary ticketing sites including Viagogo.

The Court heard that TQ Tickets had used numerous identities, some fake, to purchase tickets on primary ticketing sites, including Ticketmaster, before re-selling them at hugely inflated prices on secondary platforms.

Woods’ wife, and Chenery’s sister, Maria Chenery-Woods was also involved in the operation, as was Chenery’s ex-husband Paul Douglas. They had both previously pleaded guilty to offences, and all four defendants are due to be sentenced later.

Jonathan Sandiford KC, prosecuting, said the defendants were part of a dishonest scheme that “exploited the love and passion that many of us have for our favourite pop bands, our favourite artists”.

Ed Sheeran’s promoter and KMJ Entertainment CEO Stuart Galbraith said the verdict was good news for live music fans “who are too often ripped off and exploited by greedy ticket touts.”

Camp said the prosecution will help protect music fans and sets an important precedent in the live entertainment industry: “Ed Sheeran’s 2018 summer stadium tour was when we really took a stand against online ticket touts. The low point for me had been one of his earlier Teenage Cancer Trust concerts, where tickets were listed on Viagogo for thousands of pounds, but with none of the money going to charity.”