Tory peer Michelle Mone to take leave of absence from House of Lords

Move comes after Guardian revealed she appeared to have received millions from the profits of PPE firm

The under-fire Conservative peer Michelle Mone is taking leave of absence from the House of Lords with immediate effect, her spokesperson has said.

They added she was doing so “in order to clear her name of the allegations that have been unjustly levelled against her”.

The move comes after the Guardian revealed Lady Mone appeared to have received millions originating from the profits of a PPE company.

The government is not expected to oppose a bid by Labour to force the release of documents relating to a £200m contract with PPE Medpro. Mone has previously denied having any relationship to the company.

A vote will be held on Tuesday afternoon about whether to publish the papers and give them to the public accounts committee and looks set to pass, given the instructions from Tory whips to MPs not to oppose it.

Mone’s leave of absence means she will not attend sittings or debates, vote on proceedings or be able to claim any allowance.

She will also no longer be bound by parliamentary rules to declare her interests, including any directorships, shareholdings and non-financial interests.

However, a leave of absence request can be blocked by the Lords’ standards commissioners. The watchdog is already investigating Mone over multiple “potential breaches” of the Lords’ code of conduct.

The code states that if a peer takes a formal break “in order to avoid an impending investigation (or while an investigation is under way), the request may be refused”. If a peer is already on leave of absence when placed under investigation, then that can also be ended immediately.

The Guardian has contacted the Lords standards commissioners to clarify whether they had been consulted.

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, said PPE Medpro was recommended during the pandemic by Tory ministers, MPs and peers, and given “fast-track” and “preferential treatment”. She called it “a scandal of epic proportions”.

The Guardian revealed last month that Mone and her children secretly received £29m, originating from the profits of the PPE business that was awarded large government contracts after she recommended it to ministers.

As revealed previously by the Guardian, Mone lobbied Michael Gove and Lord Agnew at the start of the pandemic in 2020 to secure business for PPE Medpro.

The former health secretary Matt Hancock has claimed Mone made “extraordinarily aggressive” lobbying efforts for a separate unnamed company and said she made “wild accusations” about the procurement process, intimating that the company was suffering unfairly.

“I read the message again, stunned,” reads a part of Hancock’s diary, being serialised in the Daily Mail. “Was she threatening me? It certainly looked that way.”

Contacted last month about Mone’s apparent receipt of funds originating from PPE Medpro, a lawyer for the peer said: “There are a number of reasons why our client cannot comment on these issues and she is under no duty to do so.”

A lawyer who represents both PPE Medpro and Mone’s husband, Douglas Barrowman, who also appears to have received profits from the government contracts, said a continuing investigation limited what his clients were able to say on these matters.

They added: “For the time being we are also instructed to say that there is much inaccuracy in the portrayal of the alleged ‘facts’ and a number of them are completely wrong.”

Mone has previously stated: “I completely refute these allegations. I was asked to help at a time of national emergency. I declared all necessary interests and have done nothing wrong. I will cooperate fully with any investigation.”


Aubrey Allegretti and Jessica Elgot

The GuardianTramp

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