Mone’s husband says family ‘treated as punchbag’ in PPE row
The husband of Baroness Mone said his family have been “treated as a punchbag” for the “lamentable failures” by ministers when procuring personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic.
In a statement published by Lady Mone on X, formerly Twitter, Doug Barrowman said it “suits the agenda” of the UK Government to “scapegoat” him and his wife for their part in supplying items designed to protect against coronavirus infection through the firm PPE Medpro.
Lady Mone has admitted she lied when she denied having connections to the company, a consortium led by her husband, which was awarded contracts worth more than £200 million to supply gowns and face masks.
The lingerie entrepreneur stands to benefit from its £60 million in profits that have been placed into a trust by her husband.
Mr Barrowman said he and his family have been “treated as a punchbag by the media for the past three years” and have “received death threats and a constant torrent of online and other abuse” as a result of the row.
In his statement of more than 1,000 words published on Monday, Mr Barrowman looked to turn the debate on to what he said were failures by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) during its PPE procurement.
He branded it “simply unacceptable” that the UK Covid-19 Inquiry is not scheduled to review pandemic PPE procurement until 2025 – after a general election expected to take place this year.
“The stark reality is that DHSC has brought this claim against Medpro at a time of increased scrutiny of how it overspent by so much and when questions were being asked as to why the Government was writing off £9 billion of PPE out of the £13.1 billion spent,” he said.
“How on Earth did the UK Government manage to purchase five years of PPE when it was only supposed to build up four months of stock?
“Yet no-one has been held accountable at DHSC. Its head, Sir Chris Wormald (permanent secretary to the DHSC) should resign, since ultimately he signed off all the PPE contracts.
“So rather than focus on the real story here, it suits the agenda of the Government and their media spin doctors to scapegoat my wife and I for their own lamentable failures.”
The Government last December issued breach of contract proceedings against PPE Medpro over the 2020 deal on the supply of sterile gowns.
The firm is defending the legal action.
The company is also being investigated by the National Crime Agency (NCA) into suspected criminal offences in the procurement of PPE contracts.
Mr Barrowman repeated his claim that ministers were “using the arm of the NCA to threaten criminal proceedings unless we settle” the civil case.
He said it was “curious” that “out of 176 disputed contracts to a value of £2.7 billion, no-one else, other than Medpro is being litigated against”, and he said the firm is “confident of success” in the legal dispute.
A DHSC spokesman said: “We do not comment on ongoing legal cases.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for Lady Mone to be expelled from the House of Lords following the admission she lied over her links to Medpro.
The fresh statement from Mr Barrowman, which follows an interview he and Lady Mone gave the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg last month, appears to have been prompted by an article Dan Neidle, a tax expert whose investigation into the financial affairs of Nadhim Zahawi saw the MP sacked as Conservative Party chairman, was preparing to publish.
Mr Neidle said Mr Barrowman had not addressed in his statement that he had “lied about his connection to PPE Medpro”.
Lawyers for the couple had initially told the press they had ”no role or function in PPE Medpro”.
Mr Neidle, the founder of Tax Policy Associates, speculated any failure by Mr Barrowman to inform Companies House of his role with PPE Medpro could be considered an offence.
He wrote on X: “Barrowman is shameless, and so confident that the rules won’t be enforced, that even now – when he admits his role – he still hasn’t corrected the Companies House entry for PPE Medpro.
“Companies House, the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) and the police have a choice.
“Prosecute Barrowman and his team for a breach that was both blatant and impactful. Or get ready for absolutely everyone to ignore these rules. Because rules that are never enforced may as well not exist.”
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