The recent controversy about a Guardian story apparently linking Grant Shapps to a series of Wikipedia edits led me to review my email correspondence with Mr Shapps back in 2012, when I was seeking a statement or denial over the Wikipedia edits referenced in this article and his wider adventures as ‘Michael Green’ (latest). This began as a private conversation, and agreements were made about data of a personal/sensitive nature but (a) I made it utterly clear to Grant (twice!) at the end of the conversation that if he left it at the point that he did and the matter was not pursued through official channels, then I would be left with no choice but to lobby publicly for an investigation/inquiry, and (b) happily, I can do so without revealing any of the more sensitive data in our correspondence.
That was over two years ago. I apologise to the public for being so preoccupied in the months and years that followed (long story), but I’m here now and ready to lobby for justice.
During this 2012 email conversation Grant Shapps and I spoke about the incident at the 2007 Ealing Southall by-election, when his official YouTube account was involved in an alleged sock-puppeting incident. Grant publicly claimed at the time that his YouTube account was hacked, and he in part blamed his use of “a very easily guessable password”… ‘1234’ (source). Here is what Grant later claimed happened after that event, at the count for that same by-election:
“That 1234 thing was over 5 years ago, at the count a man came up to me and explained about using brute force to unlock the page. Apparently this is software that runs through combinations. He was proud of the fact that the password was quick and easy to crack and mentioned it hadn’t taken long. Although we discussed legal action at the time, after the campaign was over we never pursued it on the basis of time and cost.” – Grant Shapps
I am hesitant to cast doubt on Grant’s story because of the pressing need to call this unknown person to account (should they exist), but the simple fact is that Mr Shapps has “overly firmly denied” once too often, he is the subject of widespread mockery as a result, and if I do not raise these obvious points/questions in an objective manner here, then my own credibility will suffer, and that will harm any attempt to bring this unknown person to justice (should they exist). Police do not take kindly to people who cannot determine the difference between speculation and fact.
1. You can’t just wander into a count for an election. If you are not an official helping to conduct the count, then you need to be either (a) a candidate, (b) their agent, or (c) formally appointed by a candidate or a candidate’s agent as a counting agent. Somewhere, there is paperwork with this man’s name on it, or this unknown person (should they exist) has committed a criminal offence by giving false information.
2. The Returning Officer, the first person you would be expected to report such behaviour to, would have been present at the count, throughout the count. It would have been a very simple matter to bring this matter to the RO’s attention and make the key allegation against this unknown person (should they exist). I am left wondering why this did not happen, and if it did, what Mr Shapps can tell us about the reasons why it was not followed up by the authorities, because…
3. ‘Time and cost’ are factors Mr Shapps might consider in a civil case, but in a matter that involves criminal law, a crime is a crime, and it should be reported, especially if you are not the only victim. This unknown person (should they exist) strikes me as an extremely reckless individual who has sought to betray the wider electorate, and it is on this note that I leave you with the guts of my reply back in 2012 (I ask you to excuse my cynicism, as it was expressed privately at the time):
“re: ‘1234’… This is an unsubstantiated anecdote that is far too close to ‘a big boy did it and ran away’ to be taken seriously. Twinned with this is the fact that you are denying pretending to be more than one person in one instance while defending your pretending to be more than one person in another. There is also the not-insignificant matter of the account you describe involving at least one unmistakably criminal act. This is something that should have been reported regardless of any intentions about civil action. If you are going to sincerely put it to me that this happened as you describe, then I am compelled to lobby for an investigation or inquiry into the unknown man who sought to influence the outcome of an election with criminal act(s) and confront you personally to brag about it. Such a person, if they exist, has so little regard for the law that the matter would be pressing still even if it weren’t for the recent interest in computer hacking (see: Murdoch)” – Tim Ireland
So, there you have it. A mystery to be unravelled. I am uncertain what the statute of limitations is on any relevant offences under the Representation of the People Act (answers on a postcard, please), but the hacking allegation alone deserves a full and proper investigation, and it is long overdue.
Did an unnamed man make edits to a YouTube account under false pretences purely to make Grant Shapps look guilty? That certainly appears to be what he is implying in this recent statement about the ‘Contribsx’ Wikipedia edits. We could be looking at a pattern of behaviour here: