10 Oct 2012

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.

8 reader comments

  1. Philip says:

    Let’s coin a new word “to shap” meaning to put stuff on your website that is bogus. Bogus testimonials or endorsements would then be “shap” Really bad trompe l’oeil could also be described as utter & complete “shap”.

  2. Michael Gorman says:

    Keep at him Michael.
    Honestly these ministers, (Shapps, Mitchell) feel above and beyond reproach for any and all their actions historical or recent.
    I have constantly explained ‘ consequential action’ to my daughter as she has grown to her now 17 years.
    Last week she asked me if being in politics means you can make up the rules as you go along.
    I must admit I am struggling for a proper answer.
    So please do keep at him.

  3. disillusioned says:

    Knowing how low the conservatives will go to escape from mouth of the lion, they will probably pay a visit to a deed poll website and lo and behold! Ms Stockheath will spring to life in no time!

  4. Daniel says:

    I suspect ASA dropped the investigation because the claims have been withdrawn, and indeed the companies have stopped operating. There is no case to answer because the adverts and claims no longer exist online, allowing Grant to continue to pretend that he’s done nothing wrong.

  5. Jimmy says:

    Please don’t let this go. It’s too funny. The public has a right to know why so many people who have done business with Shapps seem to have disappeared mysteriously.

  6. Jon Wood says:

    Any news on the $27m personal fortune amassed by the nom-de-plume vendor of top financial advice? To me this seems a far bigger factor in mis-selling if it is also ficticious.

  7. Mick says:

    Shapes comes across to me as an old fashioned wide boy a role model for Del Boy

  8. Bluecat says:

    Could we have badges saying “I am Corinne Stockheath” please? It might be a Spartacus moment.

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