A growing controversy over a PPE company linked to Tory peer Michelle Monnay has sparked an angry reaction in parliament, as MPs demanded an inquiry into wider concerns, calling the politically linked firms’ “absolutely sickening, shameful and inexcusable” It is said that those who profit from the useless. PPE during pandemic.
MPs asked ministers for more details on how PPE Medpro was awarded more than £200 million in government contracts after Lady Money referred it to ministers.
He also used the occasion to ask wide-ranging questions about government procurement contracts during the pandemic – some of which, one MP said, had since been flagged as “corruption risks” by Transparency International.
Responding to an urgent question from Labor’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, on Thursday, junior health minister Neil O’Brien repeatedly sought to defend government actions and the use of “VIP lanes” that allow politically charged PPE Corporate referrals preferred.
The minister said that “those coming through the high priority route were not politically connected people, except in the sense that they were being referred to by MPs in the full house”.
A report in the Guardian on Wednesday raised immediate questions. It was revealed that Conservative colleague Moné and his children secretly received £29m from profits from PPE Medpro, a company that was awarded huge government contracts when it recommended it to ministers, from documents seen by the newspaper signal is received.
mone’s The company’s referral to Tory ministers Michael Gove and Theodore Agnew helped it secure a place in the “VIP lane”, used by the government to prioritize certain companies during the coronavirus pandemic. PPE Medpro then Secured two contracts worth over £203m.
Millions of pounds of PPE Medpro’s profits were later transferred to a secretive offshore trust whose beneficiaries were Monáe and her adult children, the documents indicate. The documents said the secret payments to the trust were made through Monáe’s husband, Douglas Barrowman, who had received at least £65 million in profits from PPE Medpro a few weeks earlier.
Monáe’s lawyer said last year that she “has not benefited financially and is not associated with PPE Medpro in any capacity”. Monae broke her 10-month silence on Twitter on Thursday sharing a picture that said: “Don’t believe everything you read, or everything you think.”
SNP Cabinet Office spokesman Brendan O’Hara said it was “almost inevitable” the VIP lane would “come to this”.
“This get-rich-quick scheme for friends, politically connected friends and associates was never going to end well. I suspect that today’s revelations, however shocking, are the tip of a much larger iceberg – an iceberg that may yet sink this ship of fools,” he said.
He said: “Transparency International UK has flagged 20% of the £15bn awarded by the Tories in PPE contracts at the height of the pandemic as being at risk of corruption. As we’ve already heard, they spend £770,000 every day Doing it to store that useless equipment in China.
“Now that we have a Tory politician who had absolutely no background in PPE procurement personally making millions from those contracts, is the government planning to actively investigate how many in their ranks Are there others, or are they content to sit there and watch as the dripping husk of cheapness, corruption and scandal unfolds itself?”
O’Brien replied that “the idea that if you had political connections was any sort of big success, when you say ‘politically connected’, they were our constituents – they were in touch with all of us, they They had to be referenced somewhere, they had to be managed and they went through the same process as every other contract”.
The UK government is continuing its effort to recover money from PPE Medpro in relation to unused gowns bought in a £122m contract – one of two awarded to the company. The gown was rejected after technical inspection and was never used.
PPE Medpro says there has been an inspection of gowns bought through the £122m contract, and that the company – and, presumably, the beneficiaries of its profits – are entitled to keep the money.
O’Brien told Parliament that a “process” was underway in relation to “underperforming contracts”. “The first step is to send a letter prior to action, outlining the claim for damages. This is followed by litigation in the event a satisfactory settlement has not been reached.
Rayner called on the government to publish correspondence on the award of contracts to PPE Medpro after the arbitration process was over, a call to which O’Brien did not respond.
SNP MP Alan Brown called for “a public inquiry into PPE purchases”, while Labour’s Sam Tarry called on the government to publish the “full” names of ministers, MPs and officials who drove companies into the VIP lane. “We need to know what caused the corruption,” Terry said.
The Commons Speaker reminded members that parliamentary procedure meant that MPs were not specifically allowed to criticize the conduct of Monne, a sitting member of the House of Lords.
However, several MPs strongly criticized the revelations in the Guardian.
Tanmanjit Singh Dhesi, who lost three family members in the pandemic, said: “For Tory colleagues and other Conservative Party colleagues, profiting at taxpayers’ expense from substandard, unusable PPE, especially VIP purchases Through this, at a time when people were locked in their homes and thousands of people were dying, including my loved ones, this is absolutely condemnable, shameful and inexcusable.”
Dhesi called on O’Brien to apologize to the bereaved families for the “amazing lack of integrity at the heart of this whole process”. The minister did not do so.
Criticism of the PPE contracts came from both sides of the house, with Conservative MP Christopher Chope asking O’Brien: “What happened to the £122m spent on 25 million gowns supplied by the company that was mentioned earlier, but whose The gowns were never used and were not fit for purpose?”
But another Tory MP, Peter Bone, said a “rewriting of history” was taking place, alleging the opposition was scoring political points from what was “really a huge success in keeping our NHS staff safe”.
A lawyer for Monáe said of the new revelations to the Guardian on Wednesday: “There are many reasons why our client cannot comment on these issues and she has no duty to do so.”
An attorney who represents both Barrowman and PPE MedPro said an ongoing investigation limits what his clients can say on these matters. He added: “At the moment we are also directed to say that there are many inaccuracies in the depiction of alleged ‘facts’ and many of them are completely wrong.”