Baroness Mone should not be in Lords, Starmer says – BBC News

Video caption,

Michelle Mone: “I’m sorry for not saying straight out: Yes, I am involved”

Baroness Michelle Mone should not be a member of the House of Lords, Sir Keir Starmer has said, after the peer admitted lying to the media about her links to a PPE company.

The Labour leader said the scandal was a “shocking disgrace”.

PPE Medpro supplied millions of pounds worth of personal protective equipment to the government during the pandemic.

Baroness Mone conceded she stands to benefit from the profits made by the company, which is led by her husband.

She made the admissions in an interview with the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme.

She was made a Conservative peer by David Cameron but is no longer in the parliamentary party.

The Scottish lingerie tycoon is currently on a leave of absence from Parliament, which she previously said was to “clear her name”, and is being investigated by the House of Lords for not declaring her interest in PPE Medpro.

The company is also being investigated by the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Asked if Baroness Mone should be expelled from the Lords, Sir Keir said: “I don’t think she should be in the Lords. I think the government should be held to account for this.”

Speaking on a hospital visit in Leeds, the Labour leader called for the government to make a statement in the House of Commons on the issue.

He told reporters the government had “serious questions” to answer, including who started the conversations with Baroness Mone in the first place.

Earlier, Energy Efficiency Minister Lord Callanan said he hoped Baroness Mone would “see sense” and “would not be coming back to the House of Lords”.

“I think she should have declared her involvement in that in the House of Lords register, and there is guidance available for that,” he told Sky News.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the government was taking the issue “incredibly seriously” and was pursuing legal action against PPE Medpro.

However, he refused to comment further, citing the ongoing criminal investigation.

The peer, in an exclusive interview on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, says she stands to benefit from £60m PPE profit.

PPE Medpro was awarded government contracts worth more than £200m to supply PPE to the NHS during the pandemic through a so-called “VIP lane”, introduced to help the government choose between huge numbers of supplier offers.

In November 2021, the government revealed that Baroness Mone was the “source of referral” for PPE Medpro getting a place in the VIP lane.

Millions of gowns the company supplied were never used but the couple say these were supplied in accordance with the contract.

PPE Medpro is being sued by the UK government for £122m plus costs for “breach of contract and unjust enrichment”. The company is defending the legal action.

In their interview with the BBC, Baroness Mone and her husband Doug Barrowman apologised for denying their role in the deal for more than three years.

Having previously denied gaining directly from the contracts, which yielded profits of around £60m, Baroness Mone admitted she and her children were beneficiaries of financial trusts where the money is held.

“If my husband passes away before me, then I am a beneficiary, as well as his children and my children,” she said.

She accepted they had lied to the media about their involvement, saying this was to protect her family from press intrusion. But she said this was “not a crime”.

Baroness Mone said she had been told by Cabinet Office officials she only had to declare her interest to them, not the House of Lords.

The couple said the government’s handling of PPE contracts was “shambolic” and claimed they had been made scapegoats because they were “high profile and successful”.

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