May 20, 2024 3 min read

Live industry welcomes ticket tout prison sentences

The live music industry has welcomed the prison sentences handed to four people found guilty of operating a fraudulent ticket resale business. Stuart Camp - who manages Ed Sheeran - said he hoped it would set “an important precedent in the live music industry”

Live industry welcomes ticket tout prison sentences

The music industry has welcomed the sentencing of four people involved in a £6.5 million fraudulent ticket touting operation. The judge overseeing the case handed down prison time of between one month and four years to four people previously connected to TQ Tickets 

Ed Sheeran’s manager Stuart Camp said he hoped it would set “an important precedent in the live music industry”. Meanwhile, Sheeran’s promoter - Stuart Galbraith, CEO of Kilimanjaro Live - said that the court decision was an important one for the live music industry and “good news for live music fans”.

“For Ed Sheeran’s 2018 UK Tour we helped thousands of fans at our ‘Victims Of Viagogo’ kiosks at the box office, where we reissued 6300 tickets and helped people get over £600,000 in combined refunds from Viagogo”, Galbraith added in a statement. “But this only helps victims after the crime, which is why we welcome today’s sentences and the strong message it sends to greedy ticket touts looking to exploit genuine live music fans”.

Camp continued, “We want to keep ticket prices accessible for as many people as possible and hope to get everyone a good seat at a fair price. Today’s sentences send a strong message, which I hope will help protect music fans and set an important precedent in the live music industry”.

Maria Chenery-Woods, her husband Mark Woods, sister Lynda Cheneray, and Chenery’s former husband Paul Douglas were all convicted of running the ticket touting operation. The court heard that they used a number of fraudulent practices in order to profit from selling tickets on resale sites such as Viagogo, Seatwave, StubHub and Getmein.

This included employing an array of tactics to circumvent ticket purchase restrictions on primary sites, including using a network of “corrupted” students. 

They then used fake identities to sell the tickets at huge markups, and also put tickets up for sale before they had even sourced them. In some cases, where they failed to acquire tickets they had sold in this way, they would send out empty, ripped envelopes to make it look like the tickets had got lost in transit - something they referred to as “doing a fraudie”.

Chenery-Woods, who pleaded guilty before the start of her trial, received the harshest sentence, with four years in prison. She was also disqualified from being a company director for ten years. Douglas, who also pleaded guilty, was sentenced to two years and five months and disqualified from being a company director for six years.

Woods and Chenery were found guilty at trial. Woods received a two year prison sentence (suspended for two years), was disqualified from being a company director for four years, ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work, and given an electronic curfew between 8pm and 6am for four months. 

Chenery was given a one month prison sentence (suspended for two years), disqualified from being a company director for three years, and told to undertake 180 hours of unpaid work and to complete 20 days of rehabilitation. 

Arrests were made in 2017 following an investigation by National Trading Standards. Chenery-Woods - who went by the nickname Ticket Queen - had already been named as one of the country’s most prolific touts in an article published by The Observer the previous year. 

Chair of National Trading Standards, Michael Bichard, said that the sentencing “marks another significant milestone in our work to combat online ticket touts, which has already resulted in landmark prosecutions, and sends a clear message that criminals trying to rip off honest fans risk prosecution”.

Earlier this year, the Labour Party committed to introducing a price cap on resold tickets if they win the next General Election later this year. Labour leader Keir Starmer said his party would pass new laws that would mean touts could only sell tickets for 10% above the face value.

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