Joe Bedell-Brill

Baroness Mone ‘can’t see what we’ve done wrong’ over PPE pandemic profits

Baroness Mone: ‘I can’t see what we’ve done wrong’

Laura Kuenssberg’s show this morning was dominated by her interview with Baroness Michelle Mone and her husband Doug Barrowman, who have admitted their direct involvement with PPE Medpro, a company which was awarded a huge PPE contract during the pandemic, despite years claiming the contrary. The couple said they made £60 million in profit from the deal, and Mone admitted to being a beneficiary of financial trusts where the money is held. There is an ongoing criminal investigation, but Mone suggested they had been made scapegoats while Barrowman even implied a government official had asked for a bribe in exchange for the investigation to be called off. The Baroness claimed all they had done wrong was lie to the press.

Deputy PM denies accusations of cronyism

Cases like that of Mone and Barrowman have led to suggestions of cronyism at work during the pandemic. Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden told Kuenssberg he was confident that all the proper checks and balances were carried out when awarding contracts, but Kuenssberg wondered why £9 billion was wasted on PPE that was never used. Dowden said the government’s strategy was to plan for ‘the reasonable worst-case scenario’ and to order the maximum amount available. He also explained the work of the the Public Sector Fraud Authority, which has been set up to recover funds that were wrongly lost.

Wes Streeting: ‘We want our money back’

Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting was direct in his assessment of the Baroness Mone interview: he told Kuenssberg that no one would ‘shed a tear’ for Mone. He also announced Labour plans to appoint a Covid corruption commissioner to target those guilty of profiteering during the pandemic and to ‘claw back’ as much money as possible.

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