Oli Dugmore 4am - 7am
Kick Michelle Mone out of the Lords, government minister says after baroness admits lying over PPE firm connection
18 December 2023, 11:06
Michelle Mone should be kicked out of the House of Lords, a government minister has said.
Listen to this article
The baroness, a Conservative peer, has admitted she lied about her involvement in a 2020 PPE deal which saw her benefit from a contract between the government and PPE Medpro, led by her husband, during the pandemic.
Mone had recommended the firm to ministers.
She has taken a leave of absence from the Lords since the concerns about her ties to PPE Medpro and the contract emerged, but could return at any time.
Lord Callanan, an energy minister, said: "I would hope that she would not be coming back to the House of Lords."
Mone has admitted she did stand to benefit from a deal between the government and Medpro, which was given more than £200m to supply PPE at the height of the Covid outbreak.
But millions of gowns were never used and the Department of Health hopes to get back some of the money, having kicked off breach of contract proceedings. The couple says the gowns were supplied in accordance with the contract.
The money went to financial trusts belonging to her husband Doug Barrowman, and she admitted she was a beneficiary of it. About £60m of profit went to the trusts.
And after admitting she had made an "error" in publicly denying a connection, she said lying to the press was "not a crime".
"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."
Mone has previously said in a video - believed to have been funded by PPE Medpro - that her and her husband have "done nothing wrong".
The National Crime Agency (NCA) is investigating PPE Medpro, while Mr Barrowman has alleged a government official asked if he "would pay more money for the NCA investigation to be called off".
"We get to November 2022, and I attend this negotiation, as opposed to a mediation," he told the BBC.
"It's very, very clear that, you know, they're interested in settling but they want a sum of money that, quite honestly, we are not of a mind to pay.
"So, I then have a separate meeting. And this individual asked me would I pay more for the other matter to go away.
"I was speechless, I didn't quite understand what he meant by that, because the only other matter on the table was the NCA investigation which had commenced in, as far as we were aware, April 2022.
"I was absolutely gobsmacked. I think it raises very serious questions as to what that official meant, what he was saying."
Deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden said he would be "very surprised" if an official had said that, and insisted that the government's PPE policy early in the pandemic did not include "favours or special treatment".