The business that received two significant PPE contracts after Michelle Mone, a Conservative peer, recommended it to ministers is been sued by the UK government to collect more than £100 million.
The claim, which has been approved by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), is for the entire £122 million (US$148 million) paid to PPE Medpro under a June 2020 contract for the business to provide 25 million sterile surgical gowns. The DHSC is also attempting to recoup the expenses associated with keeping and discarding the gowns, which its inspectors rejected following an inspection when they arrived at the Daventry NHS warehouse.
In a statement released in December 2020 by a lawyer for its director Anthony Page, the business claimed that the gowns and 210 million face masks provided under a separate deal for £80.85 million had “unquestionably helped keep our NHS personnel safe.” The gowns have never really been used in the NHS. PPE Medpro claims the robes were approved for use and that it would “rigorously” defend the lawsuit. The face masks have not been the subject of any legal disputes.
According to data obtained by the Guardian last month and assembled by HSBC bank, £29 million from PPE Medpro earnings was transferred to an offshore trust whose beneficiaries were Lady Mone and her three adult children, according to bank records.
PPE Medpro paid Mone’s spouse, Isle of Man-based banker Douglas Barrowman, £70 million, at least £65 million of which came from the company’s earnings from the two government contracts. The filings state that Barrowman subsequently made a number of payments from that cash, including the £29 million to Mone’s trust.
A lawyer for Mone told the Guardian in response: “There are a number of reasons why our client cannot comment on these issues and she is under no duty to do so.”
Asserting that its gowns “passed quality inspection in China,” PPE Medpro stated in a statement that it will “rigorously” defend the legal action. The company also accused the DHSC of making a “cynical” attempt to get its money back since it had significantly overordered PPE. The corporation claimed that the delivery of gowns came after the “successful” delivery of face masks under the first contract.