Grant Shapps' former web business under investigation
PUBLISHED: 11:50 03 October 2012
A WEBSITE founded by Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps is being investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
HowToCorp is being examined by the advertising regulator following a complaint by an online blogger.
The website, founded by Mr Shapps and his wife Belinda, recently made headlines after it was blacklisted by Google for selling a software package that increases users’ advertising revenue by “spinning and scraping” content from other sites.
Although Mr Shapps stepped down from the company in 2008, he has come in for criticism for using the pen names Michael Green and Sebastian Fox to sell products, including the book How To Bounce Back From Recession.
Now a blogger going by the name of The Plashing Vole has complained to ASA, asking the authority to investigate whether the online testimonials praising HowToCorp’s products are genuine.
The blogger has now made a confidential letter from ASA public, in which it states: “We intend to deal with your complaint under our formal investigations procedure, which means that we will ask HowToCorp to comment on the complaint that the ad misleadingly implies Sebastian Fox or Michael Green are real people, and that the testimonies are not genuine, and to send evidence to support the claims.
“We will then draft a recommendation and refer your complaint to the ASA Council for adjudication.”
It is the latest controversy to hit Mr Shapps in recent weeks, following claims he airbrushed his Wikipedia page and posed as a web guru named Michael Green at a Las Vegas business conference.
For an interview with Mr Shapps regarding these recent stories, get next week’s Welwyn Hatfield Times.