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Touts jailed for reselling tickets to Adele and Ed Sheeran concerts have appeal dismissed

An appeal by two touts jailed for reselling tickets worth millions to event including Ed Sheeran and Adele concerts was today dismissed by a judge, who said the ticketing market has 'a high degree of criminal fraud'. 

Peter Hunter and David Smith were convicted of fraudulent trading in a landmark trial last year and jailed for four years and two-and-a-half years respectively.

Using computer bots, the married couple used multiple identities to buy large numbers of tickets, selling them on secondary ticketing websites for a substantial mark-up.

Leeds Crown Court previously heard that over 30 months, the pair spent around £4 million on tickets, with returns of more than £10.8 million. 

Lord Justice Green said the scheme 'was designed to deceive tickets vendors into selling them tickets when, had they known the true identity of the purchaser and their intended use of the tickets, they would have refused to make the sale.'

He added: 'They were deceiving those consumers into believing that they were purchasing valid tickets'.

Peter Hunter and David Smith were convicted of fraudulent trading in a landmark trial last year and jailed for four years and two-and-a-half years respectively

Using computer bots, the married couple used multiple identities to buy large numbers of tickets for events such as Adele concerts 

They would then sell tickets, including those for Ed Sheeran gigs, on secondary websites for a substantial mark-up

The Court of Appeal judge said consumers were also not told about the risk of purchasing a ticket, including that event organisers could treat it as void.

He continued: 'Had this been transparent then it can properly be inferred that purchasers might have been reluctant to spend large sums on tickets that might turn out not to permit entry to the event in question. This lack of transparency is unlawful.'

During his trial, Hunter, of Crossfield Road, north London, suggested there were about 120 similar businesses to his and that bulk selling was 'encouraged' by secondary websites, which could take a cut of up to 25% of the sale.

While he used different identities to buy more tickets than permitted, he claimed this was not fraudulent as primary ticketing websites were 'aware of the practice and approved of it'.

Lord Justice Green said: 'If the appellants are correct and there are potentially hundreds of other operators all running businesses like theirs, and if they are also correct and there is connivance and collusion between ticket touts and the primary ticketing websites and secondary ticketing websites, then the ticketing market is one which appears to be characterised by a high degree of criminal fraud.

'The evidence we have seen certainly suggests this possibility.

'This appeal, however, focuses more narrowly upon the conduct of the appellants as buyers and resellers of tickets, and not on the possibility that fraud is also being perpetrated by others.

'It will be for the prosecutorial authorities to consider whether other and broader enforcement action is necessary.'

During their trial, the court heard that Hunter, then 51, and Smith, then 66, had harvested tens of thousands of tickets to high-profile music concerts and West End hits like Harry Potter And The Cursed Child.

Sheeran's manager Stuart Camp gave evidence, telling jurors at Leeds Crown Court they had decided to take a stand against touts after spotting £75 seats at a Sheeran charity gig on sale for £7,000.

Lord Justice Green (pictured) said today the scheme 'was designed to deceive tickets vendors into selling them tickets when, had they known the true identity of the purchaser and their intended use of the tickets, they would have refused to make the sale'

At the Court of Appeal last month, Hunter and Smith challenged their convictions, arguing that the trial judge acted unfairly in how he directed the jury.

However, three senior judges dismissed the appeals.

Lord Justice Green, sitting with Lady Justice Macur and Mrs Justice Cheema Grubb, concluded: 'Their conduct deliberately distorted and imbalanced supply and demand and created an artificially inflated demand which could be satisfied only by sales on secondary ticketing websites at hyper-inflated prices.

'The greed of the touts who forced consumers to pay for intrinsically risk-laden tickets at high prices is, in our judgment, an important matter which also informs any decision about the nature of the prejudice arising out of the appellant's conduct.'

The judgment was welcomed by National Trading Standards' director Wendy Martin, who called the ruling 'another major milestone in the efforts to tackle the dishonest and fraudulent practices in the secondary ticketing market'.