Government to sue Mone-linked PPE agency for £122m

Baroness Michelle MoneGetty Images

The authorities is suing an organization that equipped it with private protecting gear (PPE) for £122m plus prices.

PPE Medpro received contracts by way of the federal government’s so-called VIP lane in 2020 after being really useful by Conservative peer Baroness Mone.

The authorities is trying to get its a reimbursement on one of many offers, for the provision of medical robes through the pandemic, within the High Court.

PPE Medpro stated it could “rigorously” defend the declare.

The firm accused the federal government of a “cynical attempt” to get better cash from suppliers who had acted in good religion and to contract specs.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson stated: “We can confirm that we have commenced legal proceedings in the High Court against PPE Medpro Limited for breach of contract regarding gowns delivered under a contract dated 26 June 2020.

“We don’t touch upon issues which might be the topic of ongoing authorized proceedings.”

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “After nearly a yr of hiding behind a mediation course of with an organization linked to certainly one of their very own friends, Conservative ministers have lastly been shamed into motion to get better taxpayers’ cash after damning revelations, public outcry and Labour stress.

“Time will now tell if the shoddy contracts they drew up are sufficiently robust to retrieve the public money they carelessly handed over.”

The authorities has beforehand described the PPE Medpro medical robes deal as an “underperforming” contract.

In an announcement, the corporate stated it was clear by the top of 2020 that the federal government had “vastly over-ordered” PPE and would by no means be capable of use all of it.

It stated consultants had been introduced in to “pick over all the contracts” on “technicalities”.

“PPE Medpro will demonstrate to the courts that we supplied our gowns to the correct specification, on time and at a highly competitive price,” the corporate stated.

“The case will also show the utter incompetence of DHSC to correctly procure and specify PPE during the emergency procurement period.”

The authorities revealed final yr that Baroness Mone was the “source of referral” for PPE Medpro getting a spot on the so-called VIP lane for PPE presents coming from ministers, officers or friends.

In different phrases, she really useful the corporate.

VIP lane presents have been handled with higher urgency and have been 10 instances extra more likely to lead to contracts than presents being made outdoors this route.

Lady Mone contacted Lord Agnew, the Cabinet Office minister, in regards to the agency and he directed the supply to the VIP lane.

Baroness Mone is taking a go away of absence from the House of Lords, that means she won’t sit as a Conservative peer. She says she needs to clear her identify amid allegations she benefitted from the contracts.

In December 2020, attorneys for Baroness Mone stated she “had no role or function in PPE Medpro, nor in the process by which contracts were awarded to PPE Medpro”.

The House of Lords commissioner for requirements has launched an investigation into her “alleged involvement in procuring contracts for PPE Medpro”.

But the Commissioner’s web site says his investigation has been paused whereas the matter is investigated by the police or one other company as a part of a prison investigation.