Grant Shapps web business investigation 'could close'

PUBLISHED: 06:27 05 October 2012

Grant Shapps  MP

Grant Shapps MP

ANDREW PARSONS /CCHQ

AN investigation into MP Grant Shapps' former internet business could be over before it has begun - after the complainant published a private letter from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

As previously reported by the Welwyn Hatfield Times, the ASA had agreed to investigate allegations that testimonials published on website HowToCorp - a site founded by Mr Shapps and his wife Belinda in 2005 – were false.

The complaint, by university lecturer Aiden Byrne, argued that the website painted Mr Shapps’ pen names of Michael Green and Sebastian Fox as real businessmen, and asked the authority to examine whether online testimonials praising HowToCorps’ products were genuine.

In a letter to Mr Byrne, the ASA said it had agreed to investigate his complaint.

But Mr Byrne has since published the letter on his personal blog The Plashing Vole – even though the ASA explicitly asked the correspondence be kept private.

The point was made by Mr Shapps himself, who said he thought the ASA would take a “dim view” of the leaked letter.

Now the ASA has said it could close the investigation if it chooses to.

An ASA spokesman told the WHT: “We are aware that the complainant has published our correspondence despite requests to keep it confidential.

“The ASA reserves the right to close the investigation if the complainant does not respect our request.”

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