By Jonathan Davies

Some of the UK's biggest charities have been accused of buying mailing lists to increase the number of households it contacts with so-called 'begging letters'.

Cancer Research UK, Marie Curie, NSPCC, Save The Children and The British Red Cross are among 12 to have said they buy mailing lists. The Royal British Legion said it bought six million names last year.

It comes as minister and charity regulators discuss how to reduce unwanted pleas for donations.

A list of around 1000 names is believed to cost around £140, the BBC said. And more targeted lists cost more.

Marketing agency EDM Media, which is helping charities to find suitable lists, said it checks that those on the list are not subscribed to junk mail/telephone blocking services. It insists that all of those on the lists have consented to be contacted by third parties.

Andy Curry, from the Information Commission office, said: "We have received a few hundred complaints about charity mailouts. We are looking into a number of charities and the way they use marketing messages."