16 Mar 2015

Grant Shapps confronted over ‘Michael Green’ ID in 2012

Conservative chairman Grant Shapps admits working as a web marketer under a pseudonym after entering parliament – a claim he denied in 2012. But David Cameron says he has full confidence in Mr Shapps.

Above: Michael Crick doorsteps Grant Shapps on his Michael Green alter-ego and website testimonials in 2012

A recording has emerged from 2006, a year after he was elected, that captures the MP selling business self-help guide Stinking Rich 3 and claiming his products could make listeners a “ton of cash by Christmas”, according to the Guardian.

However, asked about second jobs on LBC last month, Mr Shapps said: “To be absolutely clear, I don’t have a second job and I have never had a second job whilst being an MP. End of story.”

But a statement by the Conservatives on Sunday said: “Given that this was a decade ago, and was mentioned during the cut and thrust of an interview, he referenced that his writing career had ended when he became an MP. In fact it ended shortly afterwards.”

David Cameron’s official spokesman said on Monday morning that the prime minister had full confidence in Mr Shapps.

Labour has called for Prime Minister David Cameron to launch an investigation to “establish all the facts”.

‘Wrote with a pen name’

Mr Shapps used to run the HowToCorp website which featured get-rich-quick advice from supposedly successful businessmen Sebastian Fox and Michael Green – a name the Tory used as a business alias.

In the recording, the senior Tory, under the Green pseudonym, told a fellow entrepreneur that the guide “is not a cheap product, but it’s a great internet marketing product”.

In a statement a spokesman for the Conservative party said: “Like many authors and journalists, Grant wrote with a pen name. This was completely transparent: his full name and biographical details were permanently published on the company’s main website.

‘False testimonials’

Asked about second jobs by Channel 4 News in 2012, Mr Shapps said he did not use false testimonials on the get-rich-quick website he ran before entering politics.

Mr Shapps said he was co-operating with the Advertising Standards Authority as it investigates a complaint about the HowToCorp website featuring advice from supposedly successful businessmen Sebastian Fox and Michael Green.

Green – a name that has been used by Mr Shapps as a business alias – is presented as having built up a $28m (£17m) fortune. The website, which is no longer active, invited users to pay a fee to benefit from his advice.

The advertising watchdog has received a complaint suggesting neither Green nor Fox are real people and questioning whether testimonials on the site were really written by satisfied customers.

Michael Green

Channel 4 News asked Mr Shapps whether a number of testimonials on the site were written by real people and he replied: “Everybody is genuine. I’m answering the questions for the ASA.”

In 2012 Mr Shapps was forced to insist he was not living a double life after pictures emerged of him attending an internet conference shortly before he was elected to parliament, wearing a “Michael Green” name badge.

Mr Shapps told Sky News: “Before I went into parliament, I used to write business publications and, like many authors, wrote under a business name.

“I was always very open about it and I actually went to one conference, where that picture was from, it was sort of open fact. It was in my biography, it was in the conference programme.”

Mr Shapp tweeted on Sunday: “Old story: all properly declared at the time and all many years ago. Labour just hate business.”