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Guardian claims Tory Chair Grant Shapps edited Wikipedia to smear rivals over same-sex marriage

Nick Duffy April 22, 2015

Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps has been accused of making edits to Wikipedia articles about his own colleagues, to point out they didn’t vote for same-sex marriage.

This week, the Guardian revealed that Wikipedia has blocked an account thought to be operated by the senior Tory, “or someone acting on his behalf”.

The edit history of the account ‘Contribsx’ includes a number of changes to articles, pointing out Conservatives who voted against or abstained on same-sex marriage – which Mr Shapps was strongly in favour of – as well as removing criticism from his own Wikipedia entry.

‘Contribsx’ twice edited the article on Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in 2013, to note the politician “had been openly critical of the prime minister’s approach to the same-sex marriage bill saying that he was ‘shocked’ at the speed at which it was pushed through and that it ‘damaging’ for the Conservative party”.

On another occasion, the user edited Hammond’s entry to note: “In May 2013 Philip Hammond abstained and became one of four cabinet ministers not to vote in favour of gay marriage”.

A similar edit was made to the page of then-attorney general Dominic Grieve – noting he “was one of four members of the cabinet who abstained in the May 2013 same-sex marriage vote. He said that he believed that the bill had been ‘badly conceived’.”

The account also made edits to Mr Shapps’ own page, removing references to controversy over his alter ego Michael Green.

Wikipedia admins told the newspaper that they “believe that the account Contribsx is a sockpuppet of Grant Shapps’ previous accounts on Wikipedia… and based on the evidence the account is either run by Shapps directly or being run by someone else – an assistant or a PR agency – but under his clear direction.”

Mr Shapps denies having any involvement, telling the newspaper: “It is untrue from start to finish, and was quite likely dreamt up by the Labour press office”.

He told the Standard he was mulling legal action, adding: “This is one of the most bonkers stories I think I have seen during this election campaign. It is absolutely and totally without foundation.

“It seems to be based on the word of a single anonymous Wikipedia editor who, for all I know, is a Labour Party apparatchik.”

A notice now says: “This account has been blocked indefinitely as a sock puppet that was created to violate Wikipedia policy. Note that multiple accounts are allowed, but using them for illegitimate reasons is not, and that all edits made while evading a block or ban may be reverted or deleted.”

The account’s user bio says: “Interests include politics, current affairs and historic biographies. Mainly US and UK, though others may be within my field of interest. I read a lot and like to dig below the surface to check and challenge conventional wisdom.”

Mr Shapps told PinkNews in February that he thought the “vast majority of people” in the party were no longer upset about same-sex marriage.

More: chairman, civil partnership, civil union, Conservative, election, England, equal marriage, Gay, gay weddings, General Election 2015, Grant Shapps, lesbian, lesbian wedding, marriage, marriage equality, party, same sex weddings, Shapps, tech, Tory, Union, wedding, Wikipedia

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