MPs today demanded Michelle Mone and her billionaire husband explain the ‘murky affair’ of a £203million PPE Government contract for a firm set up by one of his employees – after leaked texts raised questions as to how involved she was in the deal.
Lingerie tycoon Lady Mone, 50, has always maintained she had no ‘role or function’ with PPE Medpro, a firm started two months after the first lockdown began.
She referred it as a potential supplier through the office of Lord Agnew and it was apparently fast-tracked through the government’s so-called VIP fast-lane.
It was awarded more than £200m in government contracts to supply masks and surgical gowns.
But new WhatsApp texts which emerged today appear to suggest she was involved in some further capacity, despite her denials.
Tory peer Michelle Mone and her billionaire husband (both pictured) faced fresh questions last night over their involvement in a £203million Government contract for PPE at the start of the pandemic
Medpro was set up two months after the start of the first lockdown with Anthony Page, a wealth management expert and longtime employee of Lady Mone’s husband, named as its 100 per cent shareholder and a director.
In June, after PPE Medpro was awarded its first contract with the DHSC, messages believed to be from her respond after a request for ‘Lady Michelle’ for information.
A reply said to be from her said ‘We are just about to take off in the jet. The sizes are in the order. We are waiting for the official PO, this should come in today.
‘They tell you not to start until you have this PO,’ the Guardian reported she wrote.
PPE Medpro shows these products among items it currently offers on its website
Government details show how Lady Mone referred PPE Medpro as a potential supplier
From leaving school in Glasgow with no qualifications to modelling and business deals: How ‘Baroness Bra’ made her millions
Lingerie tycoon Michelle Mone was born in 1971 and grew up in Glasgow’s East End, leaving school with no qualifications aged 15 before finding work as a model.
After running a sales and marketing team for the Labatt’s brewing firm, she decided to create a range of support bras after the idea came to her while wearing an uncomfortable bra during a dinner party.
Lady Mone founded MJM International with her then-husband Michael Mone in November 1996, and three years of research, design, and development resulted in the patented Ultimo bra.
In August 1999, a month after having her third child, she launched Ultimo at the Selfridges department store in London, which sold the pre-launch estimate of six weeks of stock within 24 hours.
The business grew rapidly and in 2010 she earned an OBE from the Queen for her contribution to business.
But she sold 80 per cent of Ultimo in 2014, one year after announcing she had left the company following a breakdown in her marriage.
Lady Mone was nicknamed ‘Baroness Bra’ after being elevated to the House of Lords in 2015, where her official title is Baroness Mone of Mayfair.
To celebrate her 50th birthday last month, she decided to host five parties – one for each decade of her life – with her new husband billionaire tech tycoon Doug Barrowman, 55.
Christine Jardine MP, Lib Dem Treasury Spokesperson, said: ‘The stench of sleaze and cronyism from the Conservative party is unbearable now.
‘There must be an independent investigation into these revelations.
‘From dodgy PPE contracts to Christmas parties, we can’t simply cannot trust Conservative politicians to mark their own homework.
‘Our taxes are about to be hiked to record levels yet millions of pounds worth of Government contracts appear to be ending up with chums of the Conservative party.
It is time we got to the bottom of this once and for all.’
Lady Mone’s husband Doug Barrowman, a financier based in the Isle of Man, may also have helped set up the deal with a firm managing Medpro’s supply chain.
Medpro was set up two months after the start of the first lockdown with Anthony Page, a wealth management expert.
Mr Page is also a longtime employee of Lady Mone’s husband, and was named in the new firm’s incorporation papers as its 100 per cent shareholder and a director.
Companies house documents also show Mr Page previously had been a secretary in a management consultancy firm called MGM Media, alongside director Lady Mone.
His role with that company ended on May 12, 2020 – the same day PPE Medpro was incorporated, with Mr Page as director and secretary.
He is also a director at Knox House Trustees, of which Lady Mone’s husband Mr Barrowman is listed as a person of ‘significant influence or control’.
It is linked to the Knox Group, a tax advisory and wealth management firm run by Mr Barrowman.
Today Angela Rayner MP, Labour’s Deputy Leader and Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, called for all the details of what happened to be put into the public arena.
She added: ‘These latest reports suggest that hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ cash ended up with a company closely connected to a Tory politician who personally referred it to a government minister.
‘Labour has repeatedly called for an investigation into the awarding of these contracts.
Pictured: Anthony Page, PPE Medpro’s owner, circled, at Lady Mone’s wedding in 2020
Lady Mone published this image on her Instagram today. She captioned it: ‘I love to put on makeup to feel my best-self, even if I don’t have an event… it makes me feel ready to take on the day’
Met Police probe ‘racist texts’, ‘mental loony’ allegations and unfair dismissal payouts: The string of controversies faced by Lady Mone
The entrepreneur, 50, is a well-known figure in the media but has faced a string of controversies over the years.
Officers from the Met Police are set to question her over a claim that she sent a racist text message to a financial consultant of Indian heritage after a fatal yacht accident on the French Riviera.
Richard Lynton-Jones alleged Lady Mone racially abused him and called his partner a ‘nut case bird’ and ‘mental loony’ three weeks after a day of ‘drinking and partying’. She denies it.
In April last year her former housekeeper won a payout for unfair dismissal when she was axed from her role.
Deborah Wendy Lace had been a long-term employee at Mone’s billionaire hubby’s Isle of Man estate and got £20,355 for unfair dismissal.
In 2014 Scott Kilday, operations director at Mone’s company MJM International, won a case for unfair dismissal in 2014 after it emerged his office had been bugged and Mone had listened to the tapes for signs of disloyalty.
‘The public need to know the truth of this murky affair, including the role of Baroness Mone and other Tory politicians.’
In fact millions of the medical gowns bought by the NHS from PPE Medpro were never even used.
At the time they had to reach the British Standard for the sterilisation of medical devices or what was called a ‘technical equivalent’.
If the equivalent was the standard aimed for, health regulator the MHRA had to approve them.
It publishes lists of current products that had been given its exemption to be used.
Today there was still no sign of PPE Medpro on either the ‘List of medical devices given exceptional use authorisations’.
It was also not visible on the ‘List of medical devices that are no longer covered by an exceptional use authorisation’ or any other updates.
MailOnline has contacted Lady Mone’s lawyers for a response on the new allegations.
They told the Guardian last night she could not be expected to comment on ‘unknown and unattributable WhatsApp messages allegedly sent 19 months ago’.
They added: ‘We have no idea – and neither does our client – of the content of the WhatsApp messages to which you refer, the recipients, the context and perhaps most important the provenance of them.’
Lawyers for Barrowman said the report amounted to ‘clutching at straws’ and was ‘largely incorrect’.
They added: ‘Our client’s desire not to reveal private or confidential information should not be taken as an assumption that any of your assertions or conclusions are correct or unchallenged.’