'They all knew': Michelle Mone hits back after Rishi Sunak says he is taking the PPE scandal 'extremely seriously'

18 December 2023, 14:41 | Updated: 18 December 2023, 15:03

Michelle Mone (l) has hit back at Rishi Sunak after the PM spoke about the PPE scandal ion a visit to RAF Losiemouth  (r)
Michelle Mone (l) has hit back at Rishi Sunak after the PM spoke about the PPE scandal ion a visit to RAF Losiemouth (r). Picture: Alamy

By StephenRigley

Under-fire Michelle Mone has hit back after Rishi Sunak says he takes the scandal surrounding her involvement in a PPE firm “incredibly seriously”

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Baroness Mone has faced calls not to return to the House of Lords after yesterday she admitted lying for the first time over her links to PPE Medpro.

Lady Mone has faced calls not to return to the House of Lords after yesterday she admitted lying for the first time over her links to PPE Medpro.

Read More: Under-fire Michelle Mone should 'consider position' in Lords after lying about PPE deal, says Claire Coutinho

Read More: Gove faces calls to answer MP questions after Michelle Mone names him over PPE scandal

On a visit to Scotland Mr Sunak refused to be directly drawn on the scandal due to it being under an active criminal investigation but said it is being "taken incredibly seriously."

The PM told reporters: “The government takes these things incredibly seriously, which is why we’re pursuing legal action against the company concerned in these matters.

“That’s how seriously I take it and the government takes it.

“But it is also subject to an ongoing criminal investigation. And because of that, there’s not much further that I can add.”

But Lady Mone attacked the MP. Taking to X -formerly Twitter, she said: "What is Rishi Sunak talking about.

"I was honest with the Cabinet Office, the Government and the NHS in my dealings with them.

"They all knew about my involvement from the very beginning."

Michelle Mone and her husband John Barrowman
Michelle Mone and her husband John Barrowman. Picture: Alamy

Michael Gove is also facing calls to answer questions before MPs over PPE firm Medpro after he was name-checked by Baroness Mone in her first major broadcast interview since the scandal emerged.

Baroness Mone, who was appointed to the Lords by David Cameron in 2015, said she contacted Mr Gove at the start of the pandemic following a "call to arms for all Lords, baronesses, MPs, senior civil servants, to help, because they needed massive quantities of PPE"

Mr Gove was chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when the COVID pandemic struck.

PPE Medpro was given government contracts worth over £200 million to supply protective equipment during the pandemic, after the Conservative peer recommended it to ministers.

She has previously denied links to the company which is under investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Nick Thomas-Symonds has now called on Mr Gove to answer questions following her claim.

In a letter to Mr Gove, he said: "This series of events has led to civil litigation and a National Crime Agency investigation. Yet these ongoing matters should not preclude you from addressing questions about your own involvement and the role of the Government.

"Events so far expose a shocking recklessness by the Conservative government with regard to public money, and a sorry tale of incompetence in relation to the so-called 'VIP Lane' for procurement during the pandemic."

Baroness Mone admitted on Sunday that she is a beneficiary of her husband Doug Barrowman's financial trusts, which hold around £60m of profit from the government deal.

She also said that denying her connection to Medpro was a mistake.

But Baroness Mone told the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg that she and Mr Barrowman have been made scapegoats for wider failings in the government's handling of PPE requirements during Covid.

"If one day, if God forbid, my husband passes away before me, then I am a beneficiary, as well as his children and my children, so yes, of course," she said.

Baroness Mone said she did not mean to fool anyone, despite admitting the couple misled the press about their involvement.

"I did make an error in saying to the press that I wasn't involved," she said.

"Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I wasn't trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes, and I regret and I'm sorry for not saying straight out, yes, I am involved."

She said that the government and the NHS knew she was involved, and she had declared her interest with the Cabinet Office.

Baroness Mone, who was interviewed alongside her husband, recently told a YouTube documentary that they both would be cleared, arguing they have "done nothing wrong".

Baroness Mone, a lingerie entrepreneur, was made a Conservative peer in 2015 by David Cameron.

She took a leave of absence from the House of Lords last year, saying she wanted to clear her name.Millions of medical gowns supplied by PPE Medpro were never used, and the company is facing a civil claim from the department of health and social care. Baroness Mone said the gowns were supplied in line with the contract.