Labour demands Gove answers questions over Michelle Mone PPE controversy | Politics News

Michael Gove is facing calls to answer questions before MPs over PPE firm Medpro after Baroness Michelle Mone admitted she stands to benefit from a deal between the government and the firm.

Mr Gove was chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when the COVID pandemic struck and was name-checked by Baroness Mone in her first major broadcast interview since the scandal emerged.

The interview, on the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg, saw Baroness 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”.

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Mone admits ‘error’ by denying link to PPE firm

The National Crime Agency is investigating the company, 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.

Baroness 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.

Michael Gove  leaves 10 Downing Street
Pic:AP
Image:
Pic: AP

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 Mr Gove should answer questions about the so-called “call to arms” and what further communications he had with Baroness Mone.

“The very least Conservative ministers owe is maximum possible transparency and there should be an urgent statement to parliament before the Christmas recess,” he added.

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In December 2022, as further allegations were emerging, Baroness Mone confirmed she was taking a leave of absence from the Lords in order to “clear her name”.

Energy minister Lord Callanan told Sky News he hoped Baroness Mone would “see sense” and not return to the House of Lords following the scandal.

The Tory peer said he could not comment on the details of what happened due to ongoing court cases.

However, pushed by Sky News’ Kay Burley on whether someone who had admitted to lying should be allowed back into parliament, he said: “I would hope that she would see sense.”

The minister added: “It is a matter for her to decide… [but] I would hope she would not be coming back to the House of Lords.”

In the BBC interview, Baroness 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 £200m to supply PPE after she recommended it to ministers.

She also conceded she made an “error” in publicly denying her links to the firm.

She owned up to being is a beneficiary of her husband Doug Barrowman’s financial trusts, which hold around £60m of profit from the deal, but said the couple have been made “scapegoats” for the government’s wider PPE failings.

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Baroness Mone has repeatedly denied that she profited from the deal.

She told the BBC: “If one day, if, God forbid, my husband passes away before me, then I am a beneficiary, as well as his children and my children, so, yes, of course”.

The baroness added she did not mean to fool anyone, despite admitting the couple misled the press about their involvement.

Millions of gowns supplied by the company were never used by health services and the DHSC is still seeking to claw back some of the money.

The couple insist the gowns were supplied in accordance with the contract.

A DHSC spokesman said: “We do not comment on ongoing legal cases.”

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