Ministers will have to release papers, advice and correspondence related to the award of contracts to PPE Medpro, a company recommended by Conservative colleague Michelle Mone, who later appeared to receive millions from its profits.
Labor forced the move through a “humble speech” in parliament on Tuesday, asking the government to hand over documents containing ministers and special advisers related to PPE Medpro to parliament’s public accounts committee.
The government did not oppose the motion, meaning it will have to release some information, but Will Quince, a health minister, indicated it would likely be delayed and redacted.
The Guardian revealed last month that legal documents show that Mone and her children secretly received £29 million from the profits of the PPE company that landed major government contracts after recommending it to ministers.
As previously revealed by the Guardian, at the start of the 2020 pandemic, Mone allegedly lobbied Michael Gove and Lord Agnew to secure business for PPE Medpro. Mon has previously denied having any relationship with the company.
Mon has already been placed under investigation by the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards.
Separately, PPE Medpro has become the subject of a possible fraud investigation by the National Crime Agency. In April of this year, NCA agents searched several addresses, including the mansion that Mone and Barrowman occupied on the Isle of Man. At the time, PPE Medpro’s lawyers declined to comment on the NCA investigation.
During the debate, Quince said the government was “committed to releasing information when all investigations are complete.”
“Our response will necessarily take into account the broader public interest and the commercially sensitive nature of the material.
“It is only right that we are working with the public accounts aommittee (PAC) on the terms under which information can be shared, and it is my understanding that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will shortly begin a dialogue with the PAC Chairman on how we establish these arrangements for sharing information.”
Labor deputy leader Angela Rayner said the motion was a “vote for the truth”.
“Zero – that’s the number of times this government has cleared up this dodgy Medpro scandal,” she said. “A cover. A whitewash. Events were swept under the carpet. And now today they have been dragged kicking and screaming to the House to give an honest account of their shameful practices.”
She added: “This government has presided over scandal after scandal that has engulfed their party. They seem to have benefited from unreliable lobbying left, right and center.
“Voting today for yet another cover-up will send a very clear signal that this Prime Minister cares more about protecting vested interests than making things right, that his own pledge of integrity, professionalism and accountability is just more hot air.
“It is time for the members of the opposing party to join the program. So I say today, and I hope the banks across the street are listening: let’s stop the cover-up and start cleaning up.”
She also demanded a clear timetable for publishing the PPE Medpro documentation and said Rishi Sunak had been “too weak” to remove Baroness Mone’s party whip.
“They can’t continue to fool the public by refusing to reveal what they knew about this dodgy deal,” she said.
Last month, a lawyer for Mon said: “There are a number of reasons why our client cannot comment on these matters and she is under no obligation to do so.”
A lawyer representing both Barrowman and PPE Medpro said at the time that an ongoing investigation limited what his clients could say about these matters. He added: “For the time being we are also being instructed to say there is a lot of inaccuracy in the presentation of the alleged ‘facts’ and some of them are completely false.”
Mone has previously stated, “I fully refute these allegations. I was asked to help during a national emergency. I have declared all necessary interests and have done nothing wrong. I will fully cooperate with any investigation.”
During the debate, several MPs called for excess profits from PPE companies to be returned to the state coffers during the pandemic.
Dawn Butler, a former Labor minister, said: “Now is the time, during the cost-of-living crisis, to give that money back.”
Labor MP Naz Shah, who is a shadow home office minister but spoke from the back benches, said: “The seriousness of this matter is such that earlier this year police raided two London premises linked to the Tory riots. colleague … in support of an ongoing fraud investigation by the National Crime Agency.
“We are literally talking about a criminal fraud investigation where the trail leads directly back to the center of government.”