The Conservative peer Michelle Mone has paid a settlement understood to be more than £50,000 to settle a libel claim from a former friend of Indian heritage who had previously accused her of sending him a racist message, calling him “a waste of a man’s white skin”.
Richard Lynton-Jones sued Lady Mone for libel over comments she made in the media in January after the Guardian first reported the racist and abusive messages she had allegedly sent him in June 2019. Mone’s lawyers confirmed that she and Lynton-Jones had reached a settlement, although they declined to confirm that she had paid him, or how much the settlement was.
In a statement that they said was jointly made with Lynton-Jones, Mone’s lawyers said: “Both parties have settled their differences on a no fault or damages basis in relation to the alleged racist claim and the matter is now concluded.”
Mone, a Conservative member of the House of Lords since 2015, allegedly sent the WhatsApp messages during a disagreement after a fatal yacht crash off the coast of Monaco in which a crew member was killed. She appeared to accuse Lynton-Jones and his then partner of showing insufficient respect after the crash, an accusation they rejected.
Screenshots of the messages, which the Guardian has seen, appeared to show the Tory peer responding after Lynton-Jones told her to back off, writing: “Your [sic] a low life, a waste of a mans [sic] white skin so don’t give us your lies. Your [sic] a total disgrace.”
Mone also appeared to make derogatory remarks about the mental health of Lynton-Jones’s partner, describing her as a “mental loony” and “nut case bird”.
The Metropolitan police confirmed in January that they were investigating Mone but has now closed the investigation.
In a statement, the Met said: “In June 2021, police received an allegation of racially aggravated malicious communications in relation to the use of a messaging app. A 50-year-old woman was interviewed under caution in January 2022. Following a review of the evidence, as well as a consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, it was decided no further action would be taken. Should any further information come to light it will be further investigated. The complainant has been updated.”
When the Guardian first asked Mone about the messages, a representative of the Tory peer initially said: “Baroness Mone is 100% not a racist. Baroness Mone and her husband [the Isle of Man-based financier Douglas Barrowman] have built over 15 schools in Africa in the past three years.”
Her lawyers later provided another statement questioning the authenticity of the messages, saying Mone had “no access” to them and no “detailed memory of them”.
“Baroness Mone, in any event, very strongly denies that she is a racist, a sexist or that she has a lack of respect for those persons genuinely suffering with mental health difficulties.”
The statement added that it was “as illogical as it is inconceivable that she could or would have made such a comment or made it with the slightest racist intent” as, at the time, she had no knowledge that Lynton-Jones “was anything other than white British, as his appearance is 100% white, with a cut-glass English accent”.
Separately, Mone still faces scrutiny in relation to a company, PPE Medpro, linked to her, that was awarded £203m in government PPE contracts via the “VIP lane”. In April the National Crime Agency launched an investigation into potential fraud relating to the company and searched several addresses. At the time, lawyers for Mone and PPE Medpro declined to comment. Mone has consistently denied being involved in the company.