Outspoken MP Diana Wallis told the European Parliament this weekend that senders of spam mail should face prison.

Speaking on internet issues for the Liberal Democrats, Wallis said the UK should follow the stance taken by Italy, where spammers face jail sentences of up to three years.

"Estimates by the European Commission are that spam emails cost EU companies approximately €2.25bn (approx £1.7bn) in lost productivity last year," said Wallis.

"Offenders in Italy now risk fines of up to €90,000 (approx £65,000) and between three and six months in prison if it is proved they did it to make a profit."

Statistics from the Commission show that between one third to a half of all emails received are spam.

"EU legislation banning unwanted email is due to come into force on 31 October, and even given the global nature of the internet, where spam comes from countries outside the EU, such as Asia and China, this is a positive start," added Wallis.

Each member state will choose how to enforce the legislation.

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