Lords watchdog launches investigation into Tory peer Michelle Mone over PPE contracts

Entrepreneur denies any involvement or association with PPE firm

Lamiat Sabin
Tuesday 18 January 2022 01:28
<p>Michelle Mone is said to have recommended a company to the Cabinet Office </p>

Michelle Mone is said to have recommended a company to the Cabinet Office

Tory peer Michelle Mone is being investigated over alleged links between her and a company that was awarded PPE contracts worth more than £200m via a “VIP lane”.

PPE Medpro Limited was awarded an £80.85m contract in May 2020 to supply the NHS with masks, and a £122m contract the following month to supply surgical gowns.

It is alleged that Lady Mone had recommended the company to the Cabinet Office in May 2020 – but she has denied any involvement or association with the firm.

The House of Lords commissioner for standards has now launched an inquiry after a complaint was made by Labour peer George Foulkes on 6 January.

He asked the commissioner to assess whether the entrepreneur had failed to declare an interest in the company, and whether she lobbied the government for the contracts.

The complaint was lodged after The Guardian reported that leaked files appear to suggest Lady Mone – who made her millions in the lingerie market – and her husband, Isle of Man-based billionaire financier Douglas Barrowman, were secretly involved with PPE Medpro.

In November 2021, the government revealed that Lady Mone had originally referred PPE Medpro to the Cabinet Office on 7 May 2020, five days before PPE Medpro was incorporated with Companies House.

She had contacted the office of minister and Tory peer Theodore Agnew, according to details the government released in response to a Freedom of Information request by the Good Law Project. He was tasked with procurement during the pandemic.

The Lords standards investigation is likely to scrutinise connections the couple have with the two directors of the company – Anthony Page and Voirrey Coole – who are both based on the Isle of Man too, according to Companies House.

Mr Page has worked as a founding director for Mr Barrowman’s financial services firm Knox Group for almost 11 years.

The Lords standards commissioner said that the investigation will also focus on whether rules were breached that require peers to publicly register “all relevant interests”, and to refrain from lobbying for a company or an individual in which a peer “has a financial interest”.

If Lady Mone is found to have breached the code of conduct, the consequence would be decided by the conduct committee – which could be as severe as having her expelled from the Lords.

Her lawyers have insisted that she is “not connected to PPE Medpro in any capacity”.

Lawyers for her husband have said he “was not personally involved in working for PPEM in relation to PPE contracts”.

Lady Mone was appointed a Conservative peer by David Cameron in 2015 after selling an 80 per cent stake in her lingerie company Ultimo.

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