UK Politics

Censure for Grant Shapps' Wikipedia accuser

Grant Shapps

Wikipedia has censured an administrator who accused Tory MP Grant Shapps of editing his own entry on the site as well as those of Cabinet ministers.

In April, volunteer Richard Symonds told the Guardian an account linked to Mr Shapps had been blocked.

But Wikipedia said there was no evidence connecting the account with "any specific individual".

Mr Shapps, who denied the claims, said the media had failed to "check even basic facts" in reporting the story.

Mr Symonds, whose username was "Chase me ladies, I'm the Cavalry", told the Guardian that Wikipedia had barred a user called "Contribsx" because the account had been used to make changes to Mr Shapps' profile.

The administrator told the paper he believed the account was "either run by Shapps directly" or by someone else "but under his clear direction".

Permissions revoked

However, a report from Wikipedia's arbitration and audit committees said "no evidence" had been presented "that definitively connects the Contribsx account with any specific individual".

On Mr Symonds, it concluded there "does not appear to be a major breach of policy" but the administrator gave the appearance that Wikipedia's monitoring tools were being used to "exert political or social control".

It was also found that the administrator was "unable to provide sufficient justification" for using the monitoring tools, and "did not take adequate steps" before making the information public to make sure that the release of the information was "seen as neutral and unbiased".

The committees said the user should have access to Wikipedia's CheckUser tool revoked and lose their "oversight" permissions.

Mr Shapps said: "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."

Mr Symonds said that it would be "premature" to comment on the outcome of the investigation, but said a "flurry of experienced Wikipedians" had expressed support for him.

Related Topics

More on this story