Labour calls for Michael Gove to face MPs questions as Baroness Michelle Mone admits lies over PPE firm links
Monday 18 December 2023
Michael Gove is facing calls to appear before MPs to answer questions over PPE firm Medpro after Baroness Michelle Mone admitted she stands to benefit from a deal between the Government and the firm.
The Cabinet minister, who was chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when the pandemic struck, was name-checked by Lady Mone in her first major broadcast interview since the scandal emerged.
The interview, on the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme, saw Lady Mone admit she did not tell the truth about her links to the PPE firm – while insisting that she and her husband have “no case to answer”.
The company is currently being investigated by the National Crime Agency (NCA), while the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has since issued breach of contract proceedings over a 2020 deal on the supply of gowns.
Lady 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”.
“I just said, ‘We can help, and we want to help.’ And he was like, ‘Oh my goodness, this is amazing’,” she added.
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.”
Mr Thomas-Symonds said that Mr Gove should answer questions about the so-called “call to arms” and what further communications he had with Lady Mone.
Husband and wife Doug Barrowman and Baroness Michelle Mone attend the Cheltenham Festival in 2019.
Baroness Mone admitted she is a beneficiary of her husband Doug Barrowman’s financial trusts which hold around £60 million of profit from the Medpro deal.
Michael Gove was name-checked by Lady Mone in her first major broadcast interview since the scandal emerged.
“The very least Conservative ministers owe is maximum possible transparency and there should be an urgent statement to Parliament before the Christmas Recess,” he said.
In the interview, Lady Mone insisted that lying to the media is “not a crime”.
She admitted she stands to benefit from a deal between the Government and the firm, which was awarded contracts worth more than £200 million to supply personal protective equipment after she recommended it to ministers.
She also conceded she made an “error” in publicly denying her links to the firm.
She admitted she is a beneficiary of her husband Doug Barrowman’s financial trusts, which hold around £60 million of profit from the deal, but said the couple have been made “scapegoats” for the Government’s wider failings over PPE.
Lady Mone has repeatedly denied that she profited from the deal.
Millions of gowns supplied by the company were never used by health services and the Department of Health is still seeking to claw back some of the money.
The couple insist the gowns were supplied in accordance with the contract.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “We do not comment on ongoing legal cases.”