1 Nov 2013

Fraud allegations are ‘a political smear’, says Grant Shapps

Police not to investigate allegations against Shapps, but Met lawyers say software selling may constitute offence of fraud.

The Metropolitan Police has decided not to investigate allegations about the past business affairs of the Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps made by the Labour MP Steve McCabe.  But, in an unusual move, the Met has told McCabe that lawyers who advised the police concluded that the selling of the software may be “an offence of fraud” and perhaps other offences.

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Steve McCabe made his complaint to the police last year at a time when Mr Shapps’ past business affairs were under close scrutiny by journalists.  An investigation by Channel 4 News raised questions as to whether the supposedly satisfied customers who were quoted giving positive testimonials on the Shapps business website were people who really existed or were actually fictitious.

These people included the mysterious Corinne Stockheath of Surrey who has never been found.  Mr Shapps has always maintained that the people quoted were genuine individuals.michael_green

Grant Shapps was also found to have run his business under the pseudonym Michael Green.

Three weeks ago, on 10 October, Detective Chief Superintendent Michael Duthie of the Homicide and Serious Crime Command at Scotland Yard wrote to Steve McCabe to announce that the police had now finished their assessment of the allegations against Shapps and his family firm How To Corp Ltd.

The police letter to Mr McCabe states: “Legal advice was sought which concluded that the selling of the software may constitute an offence of fraud, among others.”

The letter continued: “However, upon the conclusion of the assessment process the MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] have decided not to instigate a criminal investigation and have now closed this matter.”

The police have told Steve McCabe that they consulted a number of organisations before reaching their decision, including the Intellectual Property Office and the Publishers Association.

Below: the full letter sent by the Met to Steve McCabe MP.


Although Grant Shapps’ business website was rapidly dismantled following the controversy last autumn, Steve McCabe was able to provide the Met with many hundreds of webpages which had been captured by various sources before the Shapps firm’s sites were taken down.  The police say that this material “was useful but did not overcome the evidential barriers that we face”.

I understand that one of the evidential barriers to pursuing a prosecution for fraud, or possibly some other offence, was the difficulty of identifying  any  victims who had suffered from the activities of Shapps’s firm How To Corp.  It is not clear what Duthie’s letter was referring to when it suggested there may have been other offences committed apart from fraud.


Mr Shapps ceased being a director of How To Corp in 2008.  However, his wife Belinda Shapps was still running How To Corp Ltd from the family home in Hertfordshire as recently as the autumn of 2012, a Michael Green continued promoting How To Corp products online, such as TrafficPaymaster (pictured above), long after 2008.

Grant Shapps still has many questions to answer on these matters.  Given his call earlier this week for the BBC to be more “transparent” in its activities, he will be under pressure to be equally transparent about his own business affairs.

You can follow Michael Crick on Twitter.

8 reader comments

  1. D. Meek says:

    The police don’t say why the case has been dropped! They say it is illegal but don’t say why they’re not prosecuting! Are they now afraid of the Tory party, after #Plebgate?

  2. Patrick says:

    Is anybody seriously surprised by this? The police seem to refuse to take any action when it involves anybody with any influence – and have on at least one occasion been dined by the company under investigation prior to closing the investigation without ever formally interviewing them.

    They treated Savile with kid gloves. They refused to take action against BT’s illegal interception of communications belonging to hundreds of thousands of their customers (which would make the phone hacking look like chicken feed by comparison). They refused to take action over the phone hacking until forced to do so. Now they’re refusing to do anything about this.

    It’s odd too, given the action being taken against reporters. From the looks of things given events over the last few months involving BT if you’re involved in illegally intercepting communications belonging to celebrities then you face the prospect of jail. Do the same to a large chunk of the entire population and you end up a trade minister.

    Personally for me I’m wondering how many mistakes have to be made before people realise that Cameron’s judgement with regards to his choice of allies is questionable to say the least.

  3. Jonboy says:

    Is Channel 4 News seeking to emulate the BBC in Left-wingery?
    Shame you never investigated the fraud in Labour’s 1997 election manifesto, which said nothing about changing the face of Britain with mass immigration.

  4. Gary Barker says:

    They’re all in it together

  5. rob says:

    “Justice for Ciorinne Stockheath!

    Release the Corinne Stockheath one NOW!

    Pray for Corinne Stockheath (to whoever gives you faith) now!

    Help Scotland Yard find Corinne Stockheath – telephone Blond Bonkers Bombshell Boris with any sightings (actually thinking that one through on recent record better not).

    Corinne Stockheath for PM!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    She can’t do any worse.

  6. Rss says:

    Here we have an MP, a sitting member of the Cabinet no less who is unable to prove basic facts about his business including the actual contacts of customers that presumably used his software. Furthermore he is unwilling to explain his reasoning for using a pseudonym and continues to deny he has done any wrong when all material evidence suggests otherwise. Added to this we have a PM mum on the subject, a police that is unwilling to investigate and a party that is unwilling to pull the whip.

    As if this was not enough, this “reputable businessman” is now calling an investigation into the Guardian’s expose of illegal and complicit government monitoring of its own citizens. If this is not a corrupt and incompetent government what is? The last 3 years have seen this country regress into the kind of despot behaviour reserved for banana states. Wake up British public, your country is being snatched away from you while they distract you with banalities.

  7. CDC Challis says:

    I am amazed that there was no mention tonight of the Falkirk Unite Union affair and Millibands failure to investigate a attack by this union on our democratic process. Labours enquiry was dropped because statements had been withdrawn – this is clearly not the case. This on top of the whatever went on at Grangemouth is surely an important issue which must be exposed in light of Mr Millibands secret agenda with this union.

  8. dookie4finger says:

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