finance

Lords watchdog assesses complaint against Mone over PPE firm



The House of Lords Commissioners for Standards are considering a complaint against the Conservative peer Michelle Mone relating to the PPE business awarded £203m government contracts after she referred it to the Cabinet Office in May 2020.

Labour peer George Foulkes complained to the commissioners on 6 January after The Guardian reported that leaked files appear to suggest Mone and her husband, Isle of Man-based financier Douglas Barrowman, were secretly involved in PPE Medpro.

After the company was awarded contracts in May and June 2020, Mone and Barrowman have denied any “role or function” in the company. Lawyers for Mone, who ran the lingerie company Ultimo before David Cameron made her a peer in 2015, have said she “was not connected to PPE Medpro in any capacity”.

The fact that Mone referred the company to the office of Theodore Agnew, her fellow Conservative peer who was responsible for procurement during the pandemic, was only disclosed by the government in November 2021 following a Freedom of Information request by the Good Law Project.

Foulkes, the former Scotland minister in Tony Blair’s Labour government, asked the commissioners to investigate whether Mone may have breached the Lords code of conduct.

“I am concerned that Baroness Mone has not registered her interest in PPE Medpro and also that her action appears to bring the house into disrepute,” he wrote.

On Monday, the commissioner confirmed that an initial assessment of the complaint was being undertaken.

The Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake also said the commissioners should consider investigating Mone.

“The code of conduct is quite clear that peers must not seek to profit from membership of the house, yet the public record shows that Lady Mone made the initial referral through parliamentary channels, and evidence that she pursued and promoted their application, and that there are connections between her, her husband and the company concerned,” he said.

Mone’s representatives declined to comment on the complaint. Previously they have said she had no interest in PPE Medpro, and denied any wrongdoing.

Barrowman’s lawyers have repeatedly distanced him from PPE Medpro, saying he was not an investor, director or shareholder.

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