Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps responds to ‘spurious’ website complaint

PUBLISHED: 18:11 03 October 2012

Grant Shapps

Grant Shapps

Casey Gutteridge 07525246273

WELWYN Hatfield MP Grant Shapps has hit back at the blogger who complained to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) over a website he founded which is now under investigation.

The Conservative Party chairman contacted the Welwyn Hatfield Times this afternoon (Wednesday) in response to the news that HowToCorp, an online business he created with his wife Belinda but resigned from in 2008, is now under investigation by the ASA following a complaint from blogger The Plashing Vole.

The blogger asked the authority to investigate whether the online testimonials praising HowToCorp’s products are genuine – and published a letter from the ASA saying it would.

But Mr Shapps dismissed the compliant as “spurious” – and claimed the blogger has scored an own goal by making the investigation public knowledge.

“Any random blogger can make a spurious accusation at any time, which is precisely the case here,” Mr Shapps said.

Mr Shapps also pointed to the fact that the ASA’s letter asks the blogger to keep the correspondence private.

The letter clearly states: “Please note that we ask you that you treat our correspondence in confidence at all times.”

“The blogger has already broken ASA’s guidelines,” Mr Shapps said. “I suspect they will take a rather dim view of it.”

HowToCorp has made headlines recently after it was found to be selling software that was barred by Google for breaking copyright rules.

The website also includes articles written by Sebastian Fox and Michael Green - pen names of Mr Shapps before he became a Government minister.

A spokesman for the ASA said this afternoon: “We have received a complaint about a website which is headed “Sebastian Fox’s How To Corp - The Home of Great Toolkits on the Net”, and which includes links to articles on each advertised toolkit which it said were written by Michael Green.

“The website also includes links to testimonials.

“The complainant has challenged whether the website is misleading, because it implies Sebastian Fox and Michael Green are successful businessmen whereas they believe neither are real people, and whether the testimonials are genuine.

“We have launched an investigation to establish whether there is a problem under the Advertising Code.”

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