Following his defiant Newsnight interview last Tuesday evening, when he tried in vain to get anyone watching to “look over there” at whatever General Election issues he deemed more important, Grant “Spiv” Shapps has managed not to follow up any of his often veiled threats. As far as is known, there has been no legal action threatened, let alone instigated, against the deeply subversive Guardian, or against Wikipedia or its editors.
Not many buyers at this dodgy motah sale
This may come as a surprise to those who have observed Shapps’ willingness to reach for legal threats when it comes to critical constituents who make factually correct statements - like his use of the alias “Michael Green” for years after he was first returned to Parliament in 2005 - and especially after he stated unequivocally on Newsnight that the suggestion he, or someone close to him, had edited Wikipedia, was defamatory.
There is, of course, a straightforward explanation for Shapps’ lack of legal bluster, and this is that he is full of crap. It may not have helped him that Young Dave and his jolly good chaps would rather their party chairman stick to his day job when the Tories’ campaign has thus far progressed not necessarily to their advantage. But another unhelpful fact in the lack of Shapps’ retaliation is the reality of some of those Wikipedia edits.
As Channel 4 News has observed, one particularly blatant pro-“Spiv” Wikipedia edit removed Michael Crick’s comments on non-existent testimonials to “Michael Green”. Also removed were Shapps’ comments, that Crick’s assertions were “completely false and a ‘political smear’”. I’m sure this has nothing to do with Shapps using very similar terminology to describe last week’s Guardian story.
What will also not help Shapps, as Mark Pack has revealed, is that one of those Wikipedia edits has been referred to the DPP by Labour’s Karl Turner: “Contribsx posted on Turner’s page that the Labour MP had ‘admitted breaking House of Commons rules by sending out invitations to a £45-a-head Labour party fundraising event from parliamentary email’. Contribsx did not add that the parliamentary commissioner for standards had dismissed the allegations, which were originally made by a local Tory councillor”.
Turner has been able to refer this matter, because, as Pack points out, “it’s against the law to lie about candidates (Representation of the People Act 1983, Section 106)”. This was why Phil Woolas lost his seat, and there had to be a by-election in Oldham East and Saddleworth. And Turner was not the only candidate Shapps may have defamed.
He also said on Newsnight that the Guardian’s revelations were down to “a Labour blogger”, later revealed to be Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads fame. Ireland had nothing to do with the story - and he is standing as a candidate in the General Election. And he does not have to prove the connection between Contribsx and Shapps. Worse, other Wikipedia editors are coming out in support of their pilloried colleague Richard Symonds.
Shapps’ Life Of Brian moment is upon us: “I’m in deep shit, and so is my party”.
Contribsx could equal contributor Sebastian Fox aka Michael Green
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