Baroness Michelle Mone, the Conservative peer under pressure over contracts awarded by the British government during the coronavirus pandemic, is taking a leave of absence from the House of Lords to “clear her name”.
The decision follows allegations about Mone’s relationship with PPE Medpro, a company that won more than £200 million in government contracts to supply personal protective equipment at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Early in the pandemic, Medpro PPE was awarded two contracts of £80 million and £122 million to supply personal protective equipment without public tender, on the recommendation of the lingerie entrepreneur to ministers.
A spokesperson for Mone, who denies any wrongdoing, said on Tuesday she would take leave of absence from the Lords “with immediate effect” to “clear her name of the allegations wrongly leveled against her”.
The peer will not be able to attend meetings, vote or claim financial allowances from the Lords while on leave.
According to official data, Mon has not voted in the Senate since April 26 this year. Three days later, on April 29, the National Crime Agency raided her home, along with four properties associated with her and her husband in the Isle of Man, as part of an investigation into PPE contracts that had been compromised during the pandemic. promised.
In 2020, Mone’s attorney insisted she knew nothing about the contracts. But an internal HSBC report seen by the Financial Times indicated that Mone and her children ultimately received £29 million in profits from the contracts through an offshore trust.
Labor will use an obscure parliamentary device known as a “humble address” later on Tuesday to try to force the government to release all documents related to the PPE Medpro contracts. A vote, which the government has said it will not oppose, is expected in the House of Commons around 7pm.
Labor deputy leader Angela Rayner urged ministers to set “clear timelines on when, where and how” they would release all relevant information.
The government “can’t continue to fool the public by refusing to disclose what they knew about this dodgy deal,” Rayner said. “Rishi Sunak was too weak to remove the whip and left it to Baroness Mone to finally read the writing on the wall.”
Daisy Cooper, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, said the public would be “appalled” at claims that people with links to the Conservative Party could have “cashed in” the pandemic.
“Sunak must suspend the whip for Mone and publicly commit that he will personally ensure that everyone in his party will fully comply with any investigation,” she said.
The government has been accused of a lack of due diligence in awarding more than £13bn worth of contracts related to the procurement of personal protective equipment during the Covid-19 crisis, some of which turned out to be unusable.
The Supreme Court ruled in January that the government had acted unlawfully by operating a special VIP queue for would-be PPE suppliers associated with politicians or officials.
Mon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.