Baroness Mone is taking a leave of absence from the House of Lords to “clear her name” over allegations about her links to a firm awarded contracts for personal protective equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus pandemic. The news emerged as Labor prepared to force the government to release records relating to the award of contracts to PPE Medpro.
Reports – denied by the Tory peer – have suggested she may have benefited from PPE Medpro winning public contracts worth more than £200 million to supply equipment after she recommended it to ministers in the early days of the pandemic.
Baroness Mone, who founded lingerie firm Ultimo, claims the accusations have been “unjustly” leveled against her.
A statement released by her office said: “With immediate effect, Baroness Mone will be taking a leave of absence from the House of Lords in order to clear her name of the allegations that have been unfairly leveled against her.”
The leave of absence means she will not attend sittings of the House, vote on any proceedings, and will not be able to claim any allowance.
Labor will present a humble address motion later today to force a binding Commons vote to secure the release of documents relating to the contracts.
Tory MPs are not expected to be ordered to oppose the motion, which will require the details of the contracts to be handed to the Commons Public Accounts Committee.
The Lords standards watchdog is investigating Baroness Mone over her alleged involvement in procuring contracts for PPE Medpro, although this has been paused “while the matter is under investigation by the police or another agency as part of a criminal investigation”.
The Guardian newspaper last week reported that the Tory peer and her children received £29 million originating from profits of the company.
Baroness Mone has consistently denied any “role or function” in the company, and her lawyers have previously said she is “not connected to PPE Medpro in any capacity”.
The Government has also come under fire for the use of “VIP lanes”, whereby preferential treatment for public contracts can be given to organizations recommended by MPs and peers.
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