Michelle Mone, a Conservative peer and founder of a lingerie brand, was “incandescent with rage” about the government’s treatment of a company she referred for Covid-19 related contracts, according to correspondence seen by the Financial Times.
An email sent to government colleagues by Jacqui Rock, chief commercial officer for NHS Test and Trace, revealed a level of engagement between Mone and PPE Medpro, which has links to Mone’s husband’s businesses, and was awarded £200m of contracts to supply personal protective equipment to the NHS.
The email stated that: “Baroness Mone is going to Michael Gove and Matt Hancock today as she is incandescent with rage on the way she believes Medpro have been treating [sic].”
Rock explained that Mone believed the company was being “fobbed off” in relation to the validation process for its Covid testing technology. Rock told her colleagues that “this is going to blow up today”, in the email sent on February 10.
The depiction of Mone was viewed as “lobbying” by one test and trace official, who told the FT it “riled me no end”.
Last week, Politico revealed that Mone had been the “source of referral” between the government and PPE Medpro.
Mone previously told the FT that no such meeting with government ministers had taken place.
The Conservative party has for weeks been embroiled in a scandal over sleaze, with MPs accused of using their political positions in connection with business interests.
One of PPE Medpro’s directors, Anthony Page, is also a director of the Knox House Trust, part of the Knox group, a group of companies founded by the businessman Douglas Barrowman, Mone’s husband.
Page had been the registered secretary for MGM Media — a company that manages Mone’s personal brand, according to the House of Lords register of financial interests — until he quit the role on the day PPE Medpro was set up.
PPE Medpro, which was incorporated in May 2020, came under scrutiny last year when it emerged that the government had awarded the PPE contracts after the business was placed in a “high-priority lane” — a fast-track process for referred companies. Both contracts, for £80m and £122m two weeks apart, were awarded without competitive tender.
Mone said in a statement that she was “neither an investor, director or shareholder in any way associated with PPE Medpro” and she had “never had any role or function in PPE Medpro, nor in the process by which contracts were awarded to PPE Medpro”.
“Baroness Mone had no knowledge of any ‘high-priority lane’, and did not play any part in or have any knowledge of PPE Medpro being placed in such a lane,” the statement added.
Millions of hospital gowns supplied by PPE Medpro under the original £122m contract were never used as they did not receive regulatory approval, the BBC reported last year.
However, PPE Medpro was quoted by the BBC as stating that it “delivered 100 per cent of the contract to the terms specified”, and supplied the equipment “fully in accordance with the agreed contract”.
The Department of Health and Social Care told the FT that “proper due diligence is carried out for all government contracts” and that the process involved “all contracts complying with robust rules and processes that prevent conflicts of interest”. It added that “ministers have no involvement in deciding who is awarded contracts”.