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Monday, 16 March 2015

Labour put pressure Cameron over Shapps

Labour have today written to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, following allegations that the Conservative Party Chairman misled the public over him having a second job while at the same time being MP for Welwyn Hatfield which Mr Shapps has always denied. Labour are calling on the Prime Minister to order a 'full investigation' over the 'very serious questions' Labour say that the Conservative party Chairman must answer. Text of the Labour letter, to David Cameron, is below:

Dear Prime Minister,

There are serious questions to answer over the conduct of your senior Minister and Conservative Party Chair, Grant Shapps.

Despite his repeated denials, there is irrefutable evidence that Grant Shapps had a second job while being an MP. It is also now clear that he was actively soliciting for business while using the pseudonym ‘Michael Green’.

It is now essential that you fully investigate whether Mr Shapps has broken the Ministerial Code.

On 25th February 2015, Grant Shapps was asked on LBC radio whether he ever had a second job while being an MP and said:

“I thought the discussion here was second jobs whilst people are MPs. To be absolutely clear. I don’t have a second job. And I have never had a second job whilst I being an MP. End of story.” Conservative Chairman Grant Shapps - Live on LBC
In November 2014, Mr Shapps used legal action to extract an apology from a constituent who referred to his previous job, during which he used the name ‘Michael Green’. The legal instruction demanded that Mr Shapps’ constituent say his past job was held “prior to entering parliament.”

It has been a matter of public record that Mr Shapps, and indeed the Conservative Party, have publicly maintained this position since 2012.

Repeatedly misleading the public over the truth behind Mr Shapps’ business activity may be a breach of the Ministerial Code, which states: “Ministers should be as open as possible with Parliament and the public”:

Ministers should be as open as possible with Parliament and the public, refusing to provide information only when disclosure would not be in the public interest which should be decided in accordance with the relevant statutes and the Freedom of Information Act 2000;
Ministerial Code May 2010, Cabinet Office, May 2010,
This may also constitute a breach of MPs’ Code of Conduct, as he has not acted with “probity and integrity”. The Code states:
  • 7. Members should act on all occasions in accordance with the public trust placed in them.
  • They should always behave with probity and integrity, including in their use of public resources.
  • The Code of Conduct together with The guide to rules  relating to the conduct of Members, 2012,
Such serious allegations cannot be allowed to hang over a man who has serious and wide-ranging Ministerial responsibilities and who will be running your election campaign and so it is essential that this matter is immediately investigated.

Given that in 2010 in the foreword in the Ministerial Code you wrote that you had a “historic responsibility to rebuild confidence in our political system”, there are serious questions for you to which the public will expect answers:
  • Will you now ensure this matter is looked at by referring this to the Independent Adviser for Ministers’ Interests? This must be done immediately given the proximity of the General Election campaign.
  • What action have you taken in response to these revelations overnight?
  • What assurances did you seek from Mr Shapps when these allegations were first made in 2012?
  • Are you comfortable with someone who has authorised legal action based on what now appears to be a falsehood remaining a Minister of the Crown?
  • When did Mr Shapps finally cease any involvement with HowToCorp?
  • What information about his business activities has Mr Shapps provided to the Head of the Civil Service when this was investigated previously?
  • What information about his business activities has Mr Shapps provided to the police when this was investigated previously?

Mr Shapps’ repeated falsehoods demonstrate contempt for his constituents. Without clear answers from you today, you will also be guilty of demonstrating a disdain for decency and integrity in our public life.
Best wishes,​
Lucy Powell MP