It is probably reasonably cold comfort to him, given he’s already lost his Cabinet job, but Grant Shapps has today seen a Wikipedia administrator who accused him of editing his own page and those of other ministers reprimanded.
Wikipedia conducted an investigation, which concluded there was no evidence Shapps was connected to an account called Contribsx which made edits to his profile. It said the administrator in question, who operated under the name ‘Chase me ladies, I’m the Cavalry’ (but whose real name was Richard Symonds), ‘struggled to provide an accurate timeline’ on blocking the account and coverage of the account in the Guardian.
The site’s Arbitration Committee said Symonds ‘did not take adequate steps before taking public action (revealing the information to the Guardian, publishing the SPI and blocking the account) to ensure that the check and following actions were seen as neutral and unbiased’. He has had his privileges on the site revoked.
‘Wikipedia’s investigation has resulted in the strong disciplinary action now being taken. However, the failure of various media outlets to check even basic facts meant that this false and damaging story ran for an entire day during the General Election campaign. My hope is that this case serves as a reminder that both the source, as well as the content of a story, should be carefully checked before it is broadcast in future.’
Shapps was demoted from Tory chairman in the post-election reshuffle to Minister of State in the International Development department. This seemed to be a pretty pointed put-down of the MP who was involved in a successful election campaign but whose online profile was causing the party trouble – and the coverage of his Wikipedia exploits took up a valuable day during the campaign. There were other revelations about his claim not to have a second job while working as an MP, which he said he’d ‘over-firmly denied’. But perhaps this finding may speed the return to the Cabinet that many of his colleagues are expecting.