Tory peer Michelle Mone admits involvement with firm in fraud probe11/06/2023
Tory peer Michelle Mone and her husband admit for the first time their involvement with firm at centre of fraud probe after being awarded £200m in PPE contracts during the pandemic
Tory peer Michelle Mone and her husband have for the first time admitted their involvement with a PPE firm at the centre of fraud probe.
Baroness Mone and Douglas Barrowman acknowledged their involvement with PPE Medpro, which was awarded government PPE contracts worth £200million during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The admission came despite the pair having denied for years that they were involved with the firm.
The NCA, Britain’s version of the FBI, opened a case in May 2021 into suspected criminal offences committed in the procurement of PPE contracts by PPE Medpro.
It has previously been alleged that Baroness Mone and her children apparently gained financially from profits made by the firm.
Baroness Mone and Douglas Barrowman acknowledged their involvement with PPE Medpro
MedPro was awarded government PPE contracts worth £200million during the Covid-19 pandemic
Baroness Mone was made a Conservative life peer in 2015. She has been on a leave of absence from the House of Lords since late last year
Representatives for the couple yesterday told the Guardian that Mr Barrowman was an investor in PPE Medpro, and chaired and led the operation to supply PPE.
In relation to the Tory peer, nicknamed ‘Baroness Bra’ after making her fortune in the lingerie trade, a representative for the couple said: ‘The UK government was fully aware of Baroness Mone’s involvement; like many other peers and MPs on the high priority lane, she acted as an intermediary/liaison between PPE Medpro and the Cabinet Office/Department of Health and Social Care.’
In relation to her husband, who runs the Knox Group, a tax and wealth advisory firm in the Isle of Man, they said that he ‘was the chairman and leader of the PPE Medpro consortium that supplied the UK government’.
They added that the ‘consortium’ was a partnership between PPE Medpro and two other companies that were involved in sourcing the PPE: Loudwater Trade and Finance, based in London, and Eric Beare Associates, a Hong Kong company.
The representative told the Guardian that Mr Barrowman stumped up half the money required through his ‘family office’.
They added that they had informed the government of their involvement from the beginning, adding: ‘Both Doug Barrowman and his wife, Baroness Mone, made a full written disclosure of their involvement to the Cabinet Office prior to the award of the PPE contracts…The UK government was fully aware of Mr Barrowman’s role and that his group would make a commercial profit.’
It comes despite the pair denying, via lawyers, involvement with PPE Medpro for three years.
In November 2020, the Tory’s peer’s lawyer insisted that ‘Baroness Mone is not connected in any way with PPE Medpro.’ Mr Barrowman’s lawyers repeatedly denied that he was an investor in the company or a consortium supporting it and said he ‘never had any role or function in PPE Medpro’.
In December 2020, a lawyer instructed by the pair said ‘any suggestion of an association’ between the Tory peer and PPE Medpro would be ‘inaccurate’, ‘misleading’ and ‘defamatory’.
Doug Barrowman (left) pictured with Baroness Michelle Mone (right) at Cheltenham in 2019
And in February 2022, Baroness Mone’s lawyer wrote: ‘You [the Guardian] have now been placed on notice on numerous occasions of our client’s position in relation to PPE Medpro.
‘She has no involvement in the business…She has never had any role or function in PPE Medpro, nor in the process by which contracts were awarded to PPE Medpro.’ Mystery has surrounded PPE Medpro’s backers ever since it was awarded contracts worth more than £200million in the summer of 2020 to supply the government with personal protective equipment (PPE).
In November 2021, the government revealed Baroness Mone had been the ‘source of referral’ for PPE Medpro getting a place on the so-called ‘VIP lane’ for PPE offers coming from ministers, officials or peers.
It comes despite the pair denying, via lawyers, involvement with PPE Medpro for three years
Baroness Mone was made a Conservative life peer in 2015. She has been on a leave of absence from the House of Lords since late last year.
She is also being investigated by the House of Lords commissioner for standards, but has said she wants to clear her name.
An NCA spokesman said: ‘The NCA opened an investigation in May 2021 into suspected criminal offences committed in the procurement of PPE contracts by PPE Medpro.
‘As this is an ongoing investigation we will not be commenting further at this time.’
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