Company founded by Shapps faces probe

 

The company founded by the Conservative Party chairman, Grant Shapps, is to be investigated by the advertising watchdog after he was found to have been posing as a web guru named Michael Green to sell advice on the internet.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has begun an investigation into an allegation that the business has misled the public by presenting "Michael Green" as a genuine businessman with a personal fortune of $28m who was happy to reveal the secrets of his success and personal wealth – for a fee. In fact, Mr Shapps used to adopt the identity to front his business interests, which he said was a way to keep them separate from his political life.

The watchdog's investigation is embarrassing for the Tory chairman as he prepares to open the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham this weekend.

The ASA confirmed to i that it had launched an investigation under the Advertising Code into HowToCorp.com, the company Mr Shapps co-founded and ran before passing his share of it to his wife Belinda, a Conservative activist, in 2008. He said he has had no involvement in the company since then.

A spokeswoman for Mr Shapps said: "Grant Shapps derives no income, dividends, or other income from this business, which is run by his wife Belinda with a registered office in Pinner in north-west London. He is quite simply not involved in this business. Mrs Shapps runs her own online business, uses freelancers, moderators and programmers to post on forums, generate products and maintain a help desk."

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