Ministers will face pressure to explain Medpro EPP contracts decision | michelle mone

Ministers will come under intense pressure this week to explain how they assessed a personal protective equipment (PPE) firm linked to Tory counterpart Michelle Mone was fit to receive government contracts worth more than £200million sterling during the pandemic.

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, has put together a list of parliamentary questions about the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) decision to award major public contracts to the company and whether it took into account its tax file.

The Guardian reported last week that Mone and her children secretly received £29million from the profits of the company, PPE Medpro, which was then transferred to a secret offshore trust.

The company won major government contracts after the Tory peer, a lingerie entrepreneur, helped it secure a place in a ‘VIP lane’ which the government used to prioritize companies with political connections .

Labor will ask Oliver Dowden, the Cabinet Minister, whether Medpro PPE has been assessed against grounds for excluding bidders from public procurement procedures.

Rayner will ask what provisions were included in the company’s contracts to terminate the agreement if any of these exclusion criteria were later found to have been violated.

In addition, she will ask the Treasury to reveal the amount of tax paid by PPE Medpro during the 2020-21 tax year and the measures taken by officials to track the profits made by suppliers through public markets that end up in offshore trusts.

The government has spent more than £13billion on PPE during the Covid pandemic and has been accused of failing to do adequate due diligence in awarding contracts, with billions wasted on fraud and equipment unused. Ministers say they were under pressure to buy PPE where they could due to global shortages.

The High Court ruled earlier this year that the government acted unlawfully by operating a special VIP lane for PPE suppliers who had links to politicians, saying its operation was ‘in breach of the equality duty treatment”.

In a statement, Rayner said: “The latest revelations about Baroness Mone and PPE Medpro show the complete failure of due diligence and serious conflicts of interest at the heart of public procurement.

“Ministers must make it clear what checks were carried out on the financial and tax affairs of PPE Medpro before the award of £203 million of public contracts, as well as the steps they have taken to meet their functions to include termination clauses in these contracts.

“The government’s new procurement bill shows that far from learning the lessons of this scandal, they are setting up taxpayers to ensure repeat performance.”

Asked by the Guardian last year why Mone had not included PPE Medpro in her House of Lords register of financial interests, her solicitor replied: ‘Baroness Mone has declared no interest as she has none not benefited financially and was not related to PPE Medpro in any way. ability.”

The leaked documents, produced by HSBC, appear to contradict this declaration. They say Mone’s husband, Isle of Man-based financier Douglas Barrowman, received at least £65million in profits from PPE Medpro and then distributed the funds through a series of offshore accounts, trusts and of companies.

The end recipients of the funds, the documents say, include the Isle of Man trust which was set up for the benefit of Mone, who was Barrowman’s fiancée at the time, and his children. In October 2020, the documents add, Barrowman transferred £28.8million from the profits of PPE Medpro to the trust.

It was just five months after Mone helped PPE Medpro secure contracts to supply sterile masks and gowns for use in the NHS. The company declined to say how it would refund millions of pounds of public money for unused equipment if ordered to do so after a dispute with the government.

The DHSC said it could not comment on details of the Medpro EPP contract as it was in mediation with the government. “Due diligence was performed on all companies that were referred to the department,” he said.

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