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Industry News

Albert Hall chief may be called before MPs

The president of the Royal Albert Hall is set to be grilled by MPs following accusations that the venue, which has charitable status, is allowing members to profit by reselling their tickets.

Jon Moynihan and Viagogo founder Eric Baker are among the witnesses likely to be asked to give evidence in March in the second phase of an inquiry conducted by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport Committee into the reselling market. The charitable status of the Albert Hall has been questioned in recent weeks over reports its debenture holders, who own a fifth of its 5,000 seats, are often selling on their free tickets rather than returning them to the box office for sale at face value.

According to The Guardian newspaper, at least one MP on the committee is understood to have written to chairman Damian Collins, calling on him to summon Moynihan, who has defended members’ legal right to sell their tickets.

It is believed the committee is also keen to hear from Baker, amid criticism of Switzerland-based Viagogo’s practices. The marketplace has come under fire for making a profit on tickets for charity events, such as Peter Kay’s Dance for Life charity event to raise funds for Cancer Research UK.

The Guardian also reported that Ticketmaster, which sent its UK chairman Chris Edmonds to the committee’s first hearing in November, is also likely to be recalled to give fresh evidence.

Viagogo, Stubhub and Ticketmaster-owned Seatwave and GetMeIn were among those to be questioned in the first phase of the inquiry. At the time they were accused of acting like “old-fashioned fences” for helping touts sell tickets.

Security consultant and ticketing expert Reg Walker, who gave evidence at the first hearing on ticket abuse, said MPs should take the opportunity to pose tough questions to Viagogo’s publicity-shy executives.

“I’d like to see the committee ask questions, including whether these companies accept that they have to comply with UK legislation regardless of their country of registration,” Reg Walker, who gave evidence at the first hearing, told The Guardian. “How can Viagogo possibly offer non-existent tickets for sale before the real tickets go on sale?”

The committee inquiry continues after investigations into the resale sector were launched by the UK’s competition watchdog and tax authorities.