Baroness Mone is taking a leave of absence from the House of Lords to “clear her name” over allegations that have been “unjustly levelled against her”. The Tory peer, who founded lingerie firm Ultimo, is at the centre of controversy over her alleged links to a firm awarded contracts for personal protective equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus pandemic.
Reports, which Baroness Mone denies, have suggested she may have profited 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 Covid.
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 unjustly levelled 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.
It comes as Labour is moving to force the Government to release records relating to the award of contracts to PPE Medpro.
The party 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 organisations recommended by MPs and peers.
The motion tabled by Labour in the Commons would compel the release of “all papers, advice, and correspondence involving ministers and special advisers, including submissions and electronic communications” relating to the PPE Medpro contracts to the Public Accounts Committee.
Labour today hit out at Rishi Sunak for being “too weak” to act himself after the PM came under pressure to withdraw the Tory whip.
Deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “The Tories are all out of excuses. Ministers must now set out clear timelines on when, where, and how this information will be released.
“They can’t keep taking the public for fools by refusing to come clean on what they knew about this dodgy deal.
“Rishi Sunak was too weak to remove the whip and has left it to Baroness Mone to finally read the writing on the wall.”
Lib Dem deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “This is more proof if any were needed that Sunak’s pledge of integrity has been reduced to dust.
“The public will be rightly appalled that we are still hearing allegations about how many of the Tories’ friends were able to cash in on human suffering.
“Sunak needs to suspend the whip for Mone and commit on public record that he will personally ensure that everyone in his party fully complies with any investigation.”