Testimonials story a ‘political smear’ says Shapps
The Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps has hit back at suggestions by Channel 4 News that some of the people named as giving testimonials on the website for his business, HowToCorp, may not exist. The story is a “smear” he told Hayley Miller of the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland.
And Shapps again insisted that Corinne Stockheath of Surrey, cited as expressing approval for one of his business products, does exist.
Channel 4 News could find no evidence of a Corinne Stockheath in Surrey, or anywhere else, or indeed anyone with the name Stockheath (though surely some do exist).
The full exchanges with Good Morning Scotland were:
“Hayley Miller: Can I ask you about this website that you run, HowToCorp, under a pseudonym? The accusations this week were that there were testimonials used on that website from people who it appears didn’t exist?
Grant Shapps: Which is totally untrue, and I’m pleased to say that somebody made a rather spurious complaint about it to the Advertising Standards Authority. They’ve dismissed the case, end of story. It was never true and you know what, there was never really much of a story behind the whole thing.
HM: The testimonial from Corinne Stockheath of Surrey for example – is she a real person?
GS: Absolutely – all the testimonials were real. We were able to provide the ASA with testimonials from 10 years ago and the truth about the whole thing is that it’s a bit of a political smear. I’m in politics, and that’s what happens.”
I challenged Mr Shapps yesterday to give us the evidence he gave to the ASA, but he refuses to do so. The matter is “covered”, his spokeswoman told me.
Covered, or covered up? In the last two weeks the HowToCorp website has been dismantled.
It can’t be much fun to have your very existence doubted. So please, Mr Shapps, give as a clue as to where we might find Ms Stockheath.
Or if Corinne Stockheath reads this herself, or readers know where she is, perhaps they could contact us.
And it’s not just her existence that’s in question, but the reputation of a Cabinet minister. And with the phrase “political smear”, the reputation of others too.
Follow @MichaelLCrick on Twitter.