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22 April 2015

Titian, Gordon, the disposal of human corpses, and apologies: a bizarre history of Tory Wikipedia edits

The Conservative MP Grant Shapps has been accused of editing his rivals’ Wikipedia pages, but such stories are not new.

By Media Mole

The Tory party chairman Grant Shapps MP has been accused of editing his rivals’ Wikipedia pages. He denies the allegations, and the story has been labelled a “smear” by the party.

As this is unfolding, a former No 10 adviser suggests on Twitter that the Conservatives have form on tweaking Wikipedia pages for political advantage.

Theo Bertram, who was an adviser for both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in Downing Street and now works at Google, recalls the Labour government first catching the Tories editing Wikipedia.

It’s a bizarre story:

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David Cameron apologised for his party tampering with the Titian page, as reported in this Telegraph piece:

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“The person at central office who then altered the Wikipedia entry – putting on the correct information, because I think Titian did die at 86, there’s some dispute among academics – but nevertheless that was the wrong thing to do. He shouldn’t have done that, he has been disciplined for doing that.”

Bertram had no more to say to this mole on the matter, but did subsequently tweet a list of pages edited by the same IP address. This includes “Disposal of human corpses”, “List of American Dad! episodes”, “Greggs”, “Poison dart frog” and “Jake Gyllenhaal”.

Far from accusing the current party of anything, Bertram is measured in his conclusion: “What you have to remember is that Tory researchers just got bored.”

A CCHQ source tells this mole that the Titian reminiscences merely highlight that “the Conservative party will admit when it does the wrong thing. It just shows we’re happy to acknowledge mistakes when they happen.”

Oh for the Old Masters of internet skulduggery.