The Michelle Mone scandal is making headlines in the UK


It is not a Christmas story, but a tens of millions of pounds affair that is making headlines in the British media this festive season. An emblematic story of executive negligence during the pandemic, which haunts the government of Rishi Sunak almost three years after the fact.

At the heart of this scandal, Michelle Mone, 51, a member of the House of Lords with an atypical profile, a businesswoman of very modest origins, with outspokenness. According to Guardian, which has been investigating for several months, this member of the Conservative Party is suspected of having pocketed 29 million pounds sterling of public money, thanks to a contract granted by the British State at the start of the pandemic for the delivery of masks and protective gowns that turned out to be unusable. Mme Mone and her second husband, Douglas Barrowman, deny any connection with the company that benefited from the public contracts, PPE Med Pro.

At the end of March 2020, the personnel of the NHS (the public hospital) are sorely lacking in masks and protective gowns (or “PPE”, for personal protective equipment). Doctors and nurses are rationed to one mask a day and some staff go so far as to use garbage bags as gowns. In an emergency, the Conservative government of Boris Johnson considerably eases the conditions for awarding calls for tenders and, to recruit suppliers more quickly, the Ministry of Health establishes a “VIP line”a priority list of companies recommended by ministers, MPs or members of the House of Lords.

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Private jet, yacht, real estate…

On May 8, 2020, Michelle Mone uses her personal email to contact Conservative Theodore Agnew, a House of Lords colleague, and Minister Michael Gove, a member of Boris Johnson’s cabinet. She explains to them that she can provide them with PPE ” thanks to [ses] teams in Hong Kong”, tell it Guardian. Michelle Mone gets a mysterious company, PPE Medpro, added to the VIP list. A few weeks later, this company won two major public contracts. One of 80.85 million pounds for the supply of 210 million masks, and the other of 122 million pounds for 25 million sterile gowns.

These will never be used, having not passed the safety tests of the Ministry of Health. The PPE company MedPro is, however, making an impressive profit, much of it going to Mr Barrowman, according to documents seen by the Guardian and the FinancialTimes with HSBC bank. M’s husbandme Mone receives at least £65m from Medpro PPE in September 2020, through the Warren Trust, of which he is the beneficiary. According to HSBC documents, part of the profits of PPE MedPro – 29 million – are paid to an offshore trust, whose beneficiaries are Mme Mone and her three children.

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