A Bourne End firm offering advice to pregnant women and new parents has been fined £140,000 for illegally collecting personal information for use by the Labour Party.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) confirmed the penalty, originally announced in an interim report last month, after considering representations from Lifecycle Marketing (Mother and Baby) Ltd, also known as Emma’s Diary, in Marlow Road.

The ICO said the firm had collected personal information on more than one million people which was then used by Labour to direct mail new mothers in marginal seats in the run-up to the 2017 general election.

An investigation found Emma’s Diary’s privacy policy failed to disclose that the personal information given would be used for political marketing or by political parties, in a breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.

The Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, said: “Even though this company was not directly involved in political campaigning, the democratic process must be transparent.

“All organisations involved in political campaigning must use personal information in ways that are transparent, lawful and understood by the UK public.”

Kirsty Munro, a spokesman for Lifestyle Marketing, which publishes Emma's Diary, said: “Lifecycle Marketing has been supporting parents for more than 25 years.

“We pride ourselves on working in an ethical and professional manner providing valuable content, support and advice to parents across the UK.

“The ICO matter is related to data we provided to Experian, some of which was used by the Labour Party for a one-off mailing in connection with Sure Start Children’s Centres.

“We had never previously provided data to a political party and we will never do so again.

“We have always sought to fully comply with our data protection obligations, which we take extremely seriously, we are sorry that on this isolated occasion our interpretation of the DPA has not been in line with the ICO’s.

“We are fully compliant with the new GDPR and give our parents complete control over the communications they receive.”