7 Oct 2012

Shapps: ‘All get-rich-quick testimonials were genuine’

Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps has told Channel 4 News 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The website, which is no longer active, invited users to pay a fee to benefit from his advice.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.

Everybody is genuine. I’m answering the questions for the ASA. Grant Shapps

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.”

Earlier this month 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.”

Message to party faithful

Mr Shapps today kicked off the Tories’ 2015 general election campaign as he opened the party’s annual conference in Birmingham.

He urged activists not to be “shy” about boasting of their achievements in government – and announced the party would target seats held by their Liberal Democrat coalition partners.

Mr Shapps, who also spoke of his battle against cancer and paid tribute to the NHS, insisted the Conservatives were “doing things that really matter”.

The party chairman – appointed in last month’s ministerial reshuffle, hailed the work of his predecessor Baroness Warsi and urged the party faithful to rally behind David Cameron, saying: “He is doing a remarkable job in unbelievably testing times.”