Husband of former Tory peer admits making millions from COVID-era contracts

LONDON — A former Conservative peer’s husband admitted Sunday that he made millions of pounds from government contracts for personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an interview with the BBC on Sunday, Michelle Mone, an entrepreneur who was ennobled by former Prime Minister David Cameron, admitted she lied to the media about her involvement with her husband Doug Barrowman’s company PPE Medpro because she wanted to protect her family from press intrusion. Mone is currently taking a leave of absence from parliament, which means she does not attend sittings or debates, and cannot claim an allowance.

Barrowman admitted he led the PPE Medpro consortium, despite no record of his connection being recorded on Companies House.

The U.K. government revealed in 2021 that Mone had been the “source of referral” for PPE Medpro to a so-called “VIP lane,” set up to allow referrals of potential suppliers from MPs, peers, ministers and senior officials in the scramble to procure masks and gowns at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lawyers acting for her repeatedly claimed to the Guardian newspaper that Mone was not connected to PPE Medpro in any capacity.

On Sunday, Mone admitted that she did stand to benefit from around £60 million of profit that her husband made on the PPE Medpro contracts to supply medical gear during the pandemic.

“If my husband passes away before me, then I am a beneficiary, as well as his children and my children,” she told the BBC of the financial trusts where the profits from the contract are held.

“I did make an error in saying to the press that I wasn’t involved,” Mone added.

The U.K. government is now suing PPE Medpro for “breach of contract and unjust enrichment” after millions of gowns the company supplied were never used. The couple is also being investigated by the National Crime Agency.

Mone insists: “I don’t honestly see there is a case to answer. I can’t see what we have done wrong.”

Barrowman told the BBC he had made a 30 percent profit — around £60 million — on two contracts worth £202 million, but insisted the “risks were absolutely extraordinary.”