UK: Tory peer Michelle Mone accused of trying to 'bully and hector' MPs to secure PPE contracts
Mone lobbied Michael Gove and Lord Agnew to secure business for PPE Medpro
Conservative peer and British businesswoman Michelle Mone has been accused of lobbying for PPE Medpro at the start of the pandemic in 2020. The company was awarded huge government contracts worth more than £200 million ($246 million) after Mone recommended it to ministers. She and her children in return reportedly secretly received £29 million ($35 million) originating from the profits of the company.
The Sunday Times has now revealed the names of the ministers she had approached for the matter. The publication reported that Mone lobbied Michael Gove and Lord Agnew to secure business for PPE Medpro. Mone reportedly wrote to Gove, who was the Cabinet Office minister at the time, and Agnew, who was his deputy in charge of procurement, on their personal email addresses.
She wrote: “We have managed to source PPE masks through my team in Hong Kong. In order to commit to this 100,000 [masks] per day could you please get back to me ASAP as freight will also need to be secured.”
However, since the response was taking too long, Mone approached Agnew through email and telephone. Sources told the publication that she was "rude, abrasive and bullying" and had a "hectoring tone [that] was very irritating.”
Gove is said to have even described her as “a right pain in the arse”.
Guardian reported that as per documents reviewed by the newspaper, a secret offshore trust which had 51-year-old Mone and her children as its beneficiaries received £29 million from the profits made by PPE Medpro. As per bank records, the company supplied face masks and medical gowns.
The matter has led to a huge hue & cry in the parliament, with MPs calling for an investigation into what they called “absolutely sickening, shameful and unforgivable” instances of firms profiteering from political connections over unusable PPE during the pandemic.
Parliamentarians have demanded to know the government’s procurement contracts during the pandemic. One MP said that some of these contracts had since been flagged by Transparency International as a “corruption risk”.
Surprisingly, Mone did not declare PPE Medpro in her House of Lords register of financial interest. Her lawyer had told Guardian last year that “Baroness Mone did not declare any interest as she did not benefit financially and was not connected to PPE Medpro in any capacity".
Guardian also reported last week that her husband, financier Douglas Barrowman, received at least £65 million ($80 million) in profits from PPE Medpro. He later distributed the money through offshore accounts, trusts and companies.
(With inputs from agencies)
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