Tag Archives: Sebastian Fox

Vox Political proved right over Grant Shapps’ business interests

As his name tag ('Michael Green') shows, Grant Shapps is not a novice in the art of bending the facts.

As his name tag (‘Michael Green’) shows, Grant Shapps is not a novice in the art of bending the facts.

Remember when Vox Political took issue with Grant Shapps over the business he ran while sitting as a member of Parliament?

Back in October 2013, this blog stated: “As ‘Michael Green’, in the run-up to the 2005 election and afterwards, he “charged clients £183 an hour for advice on how to make money from the web as well as offering tips on how to beat the recession blues, including splashing out on a jet-ski or learning to play the guitar,” according to the Daily Mail. Apparently he said his use of the name was to keep his business interests separate from his future political work, but he ended his involvement with that business in 2009, four years after he entered Parliament.

“‘Sebastian Fox’ was another alias he used on Howtocorp, the web publishing company he created in 2000.”

Today – March 16, 2015 – the BBC tells us: “Mr Shapps admitted he had ‘over firmly’ denied continuing his writing career – under the pen name Michael Green – when he entered the Commons in 2005.

“In an interview with LBC Radio three weeks ago, Mr Shapps said it was ‘absolutely clear’ he was not doing business as Michael Green while he was an MP, saying ‘I did not have a second job while being an MP, end of story’.

“However, Mr Shapps has now acknowledged that he was mistaken ‘over the dates’ of his outside employment during the interview.”

“This came after the Guardian issued what it says is a recording of a sales pitch made in the summer of 2006 in which Mr Shapps, using his Michael Green pen name, says he will be running his ‘mentoring programme’ to hire staff and produce software to create websites.”

Shapps has told us he fully declared all his business interests, but Labour wants an inquiry. After all – if he can get his dates mixed up in a radio interview, who knows what else he has “over firmly” denied?

Meanwhile, the fact he was making a sales pitch in 2006, at a time when he reckoned he was “winding up” the business, suggests that Vox Political was right to pick up on it.

As Labour MP Chris Bryant said in a tweet yesterday, “So, basically, Grant Shapps has been fibbing all the while. Is that right? Or was it Michael Green that was fibbing?”

This writer responded: “Definitely Grant Shapps. Michael Green only does what Shapps says.”

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Three little pigs who are sticking their snouts in the trough to keep out the wolves

Caught out again: Grant Shapps is yet again having to justify his own shady behaviour.

Caught out again: Grant Shapps is yet again having to justify his own shady behaviour.

Here’s a story to get you irritated and annoyed on a hot summer’s day: Your Prime Minister, his Chancellor and the chairman of their political party have all found novel property-based cheats.

According to the Daily Mirror, David Cameron and George Osborne have done a secret deal with the taxman to cut thousands of pounds off the tax they pay while they are living in their famous grace-and-favour homes on Downing Street.

Under the change, which HM Revenue and Customs has buried deep in the small print of its accounts, Cameron is saving a minimum of £1,228 a year, while Osborne’s bill has more than halved, saving him £1,560 a year.

The Mirror points out that this means Osborne is paying just £23 a week and Cameron no more than £35 to live at Britain’s most exclusive address, while the average rent in the UK is £195.

The paper quotes Alex Hilton, director of pressure group Generation Rent, who mocked the top Tories with their election slogan from 2010: “We’re blatantly not all in it together if the residents of Downing Street can wangle themselves a nice bonus while ordinary families are seeing their rent go up by more than wages.”

Meanwhile Grant Shapps, the Tory co-chairman who hid his own shady business deals behind the false names ‘Michael Green’ and ‘Sebastian Fox’ for the first four years of his Parliamentary career, has been receiving campaign funds from a Conservative club that has not submitted a tax return since 2009.

Conservative Club (Hatfield) Ltd has been fined £3,000 by the Financial Conduct Authority for its failure to produce accounts or name its officers. Despite these issues, it seems the club has been entirely able to provide £140,000 to fund Shapps as a candidate in his Welwyn Hatfield constituency.

Shapps has claimed the club is not connected to his local Conservative Association, which is odd – because not only is it based in the same building, paying rent to the association, but its members are all counted as members of the Conservative Party as well.

Was Shapps among the Conservatives who justified last year’s Gagging Act by claiming it was vital that the public had transparency from their MPs?

And didn’t Cameron say his government would be the most transparent ever, in its affairs?

Liars. Pigs with their snouts in the trough, all of them.

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Who is the fool who chose Grant Shapps to question BBC trustworthiness?

Shapps v BBC: Take a look at the name on his tag and ask yourself who you think is more trustworthy.

Shapps v BBC: Take a look at the name on his tag and ask yourself who you think is more trustworthy.

Sometimes you have to wonder if the Conservatives are just having a laugh. Admittedly, the jokes would be sick, but it seems the only logical explanation for some of their decisions.

Take the latest attack on the BBC. A Conservative spokesman has said the Corporation should face a cut in its licence fee or be forced to share it with other broadcasters unless it rebuilds public trust after receiving bad publicity over payouts to top executives and the way it handled the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Unfortunately, the spokesman himself is Tory Chairman Grant Shapps, a man who has his own issues in the same area and who is known to have used at least two false identities for shady reasons.

As ‘Michael Green’, in the run-up to the 2005 election and afterwards, he “charged clients £183 an hour for advice on how to make money from the web as well as offering tips on how to beat the recession blues, including splashing out on a jet-ski or learning to play the guitar,” according to the Daily Mail. Apparently he said his use of the name was to keep his business interests separate from his future political work, but he ended his involvement with that business in 2009, four years after he entered Parliament.

‘Sebastian Fox’ was another alias he used on Howtocorp, the web publishing company he created in 2000.

The two aliases were enough for people to make a connection with ‘Chuck Champion’ of a website called Howtopickupwomennow – but the evidence suggests it is unlikely that this is yet another pseudonym. Besides, the two we already had were enough to make the point that the BBC has no need to accept lectures about trust from Grant Shapps.

Of the BBC (and on the BBC News website) Mr Shapps/Green/Fox said: “They have ended up working in this culture which is buried in the last century, which is ‘we are the BBC, we do what we like, we don’t have to be too accountable’.

“But they are raising £3.6bn through the licence fee, which is a tax, and, quite rightly, the public wants to have sight of how the money is spent. Things like the pay-offs have really caused concern, as have, obviously, things like Savile and [Stuart] Hall [currently in prison for sex offences against young girls) and the culture that goes around that. I think it is one of too much secrecy,” said the man who hid his own business affairs behind false names for the first four years of his Parliamentary career.

Shapps said the BBC should open its books to inspection by the National Audit Office, and open itself up to Freedom of Information requests. He added that there was a “question of credibility” for the BBC over whether it applied “fairness” to its reporting of politics.

How interesting that last point is.

Regarding the bulk of the Shapps complaints, the BBC was quick to point out that the NAO already has full access to the BBC, except for its editorial decisions, and that in 2012 the Corporation responded to more than 1,600 FoI requests and volunteered information on hundreds more subjects.

Then we come to that interesting last point. The BBC spokesman said: “Mr Shapps is right that transparency is key to the future of the BBC. So is its freedom from political pressure.” (Italics mine)

It seems bizarre that the chairman of the Conservative Party should be complaining about the fairness of BBC political reporting. He can only be doing this to imply that the BBC is biased against the Conservatives – but we know that this has already been investigated and the opposite was found to be true.

As reported by this blog in August: “The BBC has a broadly right-wing bias. The study showed that the government of the day generally gets more airtime than anyone else (natural considering it is making policy and actually carrying out the business of government) but in reporting of immigration, the EU and religion, in 2007 Gordon Brown’s appearances on the BBC outnumbered David Cameron’s by less than two to one, while in 2012, Cameron’s outnumbered Ed Miliband’s by around four to one. The same ratios occurred for other prominent members of each party. When reporting of all topics is taken into account, Conservative politicians were featured more than 50 per cent more often than those from Labour in both 2007 AND 2012.”

So now the real motive behind the Shapps attack becomes clear. He wants to coerce the BBC into an even more slavish adherence to the Conservative Party line than it has already, with the threat of losing its monopoly of the licence fee hanging over it.

And he wants to get the public on-side by pushing the discredited claim that the BBC is a den of Lefties.

You’ll have noticed, Dear Reader, that Shapps has not referred directly to any individual news stories. Are we to take it that he opposes the BBC’s failure to report the anti-Tory demonstration outside the Conservative Party conference on September 29? More than three times as many people turned up for that (50,000) as there were delegates in the conference, if I recall correctly.

The Shapps intervention has already received the lack of respect it deserves on the social media. “I see Grant Shapps now loudly slagging off the BBC so we’re all diverted from Hunt’n’Gove systematically destroying the NHS and Education,” Tweeted one member of the Great British public. See recent Vox Political articles for the facts behind those words.

And cartoonist Martin Rowson put the whole affair in context: “Does everyone know that unbelievably fatuous poltroon @grantshapps is Cousin of Mick Jones of The Clash? Weird, huh? Though not as weird as this meretricious delusional oaf thinking anyone ever takes anything he’s ever said ever more seriously than a pool of puppy sick.”