Former Runrig star-turned-MP attacks ticket tout websites

Former Runrig keyboard player Pete Wishart has called on politicians to tackle Britain's secondary ticketing 'crisis' after revealing than he was inundated with complaints from fans when tickets for the band went on sale on tout websites within minutes of their release.

Wishart is to call on MPs to tackle the "crisis".
Wishart is to call on MPs to tackle the "crisis".

Mr Wishart, who has been MP for Perth and North Perthshire since 2005 and no longer performs with the band, is set to raise the issue of ticketing sites in Westminster today, telling MPs that the ticketing business in the UK is “broken and beyond repair” and said there was a “callous disregard” for music fans.

He said fans had contacted him after tickets for a Stirling Castle gig in August appeared on secondary sites at several times the value of the original ticket within minutes of them going on sale.

The debate comes a week after the competitions watchdog, the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA), said it would take legal action against Viagogo - which Mr Wishart described to MPs as "truly exploitative" - after it failed to agree improvements which would protect consumers.

Mr Wishart said: “The ticketing business is simply broken beyond repair and it is has become one of the biggest consumer crises we face in this country. It is currently a business model built to maximise profits and exploit its consumer base. It is in practice a ‘rip off machine’ - from artist’s management and promoters all the way down to the unsuspecting fan.

“It should be the easiest thing in the world. All you want to do is to buy a ticket to see your favourite band. But swimming shark infested waters would probably be easier and safer than trying to buy a ticket for a popular show. From the first click of the mouse music fans are exposed to any number of touts, profiteers and spivs determined to maximise their return at the expense of genuine music fans.”

He said that tickets for Runrig’s Stirling concert were selling for as many as four times their original price within 12 minutes of them going on sale.

He said: “Bands like Runrig do all they can to spare their fans the misery of the touts and artists are looking at all sorts innovative solutions to protect their fans. It should not be the responsibility of musicians to protect the public in consumer affairs. That is the job of Government. And the Government has been painfully slow to respond.”

A spokesman for the Fair Ticketing Alliance, which was set up by members of the industry to promote fair ticketing or consumers, said: “Issues around secondary ticketing are critical for all live music and entertainment fans across the UK and Pete Wishart deserves support for raising them in Parliament. It may come as a surprise, but we agree with him that there is a lot wrong with the current ticketing market. It is failing to meet the demands of live entertainment fans in the UK and we want to see change so consumers get the best deal.”

Earlier this year, the UK Government outlawed bots - which stopped companies from using automated technology to snap up large numbers of tickets - was welcome, but did not go far enough.

Minister for culture Margot James said: “There is no inertia in the government” in terms of tackling the problem.

She said: “It is clear that we are prepared to go after those who flout the law or abuse the ticketing market.”