Grant Shapps's guide to "bouncing back" from recession

Conservative housing minister mocked for his company's self-help guide.

It hasn't been a good start to the new parliamentary term for Conservative housing minister Grant Shapps, who was revealed by the Guardian to have founded a family company selling software that increases a website's advertising revenue by manipulating search engines. In breach of Google's code of practice, the $497 (£313) software package, TrafficPaymaster, "creates web pages by 'spinning and scraping' content from other sites to attract advertising". Operating under the alias "Michael Green", Shapps claimed customers could "make $20,000 in 20 days guaranteed or your money back".

Shapps transferred his share of the company to his wife, Belinda, in 2008, but the business has continued to publish such titles as Michael Green's How To Bounce Back From Recession, "a beautifully written self-help guide for negotiating your way to better times." As Owen Jones notes, it's "Pure Alan Partridge".

                              

Shapps has been widely tipped to replace Sayeeda Warsi as Conservative chairman in the imminent reshuffle, but after today's debacle it would be surprising if David Cameron wasn't having second thoughts.

Conservative housing minister Grant Shapps founded a company under the alias "Michael Green". Photograph:

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Quiz: Can you identify fake news?

The furore around "fake" news shows no sign of abating. Can you spot what's real and what's not?

Hillary Clinton has spoken out today to warn about the fake news epidemic sweeping the world. Clinton went as far as to say that "lives are at risk" from fake news, the day after Pope Francis compared reading fake news to eating poop. (Side note: with real news like that, who needs the fake stuff?)

The sweeping distrust in fake news has caused some confusion, however, as many are unsure about how to actually tell the reals and the fakes apart. Short from seeing whether the logo will scratch off and asking the man from the market where he got it from, how can you really identify fake news? Take our test to see whether you have all the answers.

 

 

In all seriousness, many claim that identifying fake news is a simple matter of checking the source and disbelieving anything "too good to be true". Unfortunately, however, fake news outlets post real stories too, and real news outlets often slip up and publish the fakes. Use fact-checking websites like Snopes to really get to the bottom of a story, and always do a quick Google before you share anything. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.