PICTURED: Tory peer Michelle Mone jets off on luxury £6,000-a-night Alpine ski break as government launches legal battle over £122m PPE firm she lobbied ministers over
- Michelle Mone seen at five-star Le Kaila hotel in resort of Meribel, in French Alps
- Legal action launched against PPE firm at centre of Tory peer Michelle Mone row
- Ministers are said to be pursuing a claim for the full £122m paid to the company
Michelle Mone has jetted to a luxury ski resort in the French Alps as the government takes the £122million PPE firm she lobbied ministers over during the Covid pandemic to court.
The lingerie tycoon and Tory peer, aka Baroness Bra, 51, is staying at a £6,000-a-night hotel in Meribel – just days after the Department for Health and Social Care (DHCS) issued civil legal proceedings against PPE Medpro.
Officials claim they rejected the supply of 25million sterile surgical gowns under a contract agreed with the firm at the height of the Covid pandemic in June 2020, following an inspection when they arrived at an NHS depot.
DHSC are said to be pursuing a claim for the full £122million paid to the company, as well as seeking to recover the costs of storing and disposing of the protective clothing.
Michelle Mone has jetted to a luxury ski resort in the French Alps as the government takes the £122million PPE firm she lobbied ministers over during the Covid pandemic to court (Pictured: Ms Mone in Meribel in the French Alps)
The lingerie tycoon and Tory peer, aka Baroness Bra, 51, is staying at the £6,000-a-night Le Kaila Hotel in Meribel (pictured)
The Goverment’s decision to pursue breach of contract proceedings in the High Court is likely to bring further scrutiny of PPE Medpro’s dealings with ministers during the pandemic.
Earlier this month, Baroness Mone announced she was taking a leave of absence from the House of Lords amid a row about her alleged links to the firm.
And she seemed worlds away as she stepped out of the five-star Le Kaila Hotel in Ugg-style boots, light blue jeans and a long black puffer coat.
The 51-year-old, the founder of a lingerie firm, has denied reports she benefited from PPE Medpro winning contracts worth more than £200million during the pandemic.
It has been claimed Lady Mone, who was made a Tory peer by ex-prime minister David Cameron in 2015, and her children received £29million originating from profits of the company.
She is alleged to have helped PPE Medpro secure a place in a Government ‘VIP lane’ for Covid contracts.
The Government is under an obligation to release papers relating to PPE Medpro’s contracts with DHSC after a motion was passed by the House of Commons two weeks ago.
Michelle Mone leaving the five-star Le Kaila hotel in Meribel in the French Alps
Earlier this month, Baroness Mone (pictured at luxury ski resort this week) announced she was taking a leave of absence from the House of Lords amid a row about her alleged links to the firm
Responding to the launching of legal action by DHSC, PPE Medpro today said the case over the supply of gowns would be ‘rigorously defended’.
It also accused the Government of a ‘cynical attempt to recover money from suppliers’ who acted in good faith.
A statement issued by the firm said: ‘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 case will also show the utter incompetence of DHSC to correctly procure and specify PPE during the emergency procurement period.
‘This will be the real legacy of the court case and it will be played out in the public arena for all to see.’
PPE Medpro claimed DHSC was fighting over ‘contract technicalities’ such as whether gowns were single or double-bagged because it had ‘vastly over-ordered’ protective equipment.
The firm said it had made ‘numerous attempts at mediation with DHSC’ but ‘they didn’t want to settle’.
The PPE Medpro statement added: ‘Over a two month period, July through to end of August 2020, PPE Medpro supplied DHSC with 25 million sterile gowns.
Baroness Mone, the founder of a lingerie firm, has denied reports she benefited from PPE Medpro winning contracts worth more than £200million during the pandemic
The Government has issued civil legal proceedings against the firm over a contract to supply gowns – reportedly worth £122million – signed during the Covid crisis. (Stock photo)
The Department for Health and Social Care has issued civil legal proceedings against PPE Medpro in the High Court
‘The gowns were manufactured to the correct quality, standards and specification set out in the contract, delivered on time and at a price that was 50 per cent of what DHSC had been paying at the time.’
But ‘by the end of 2020 it was clear that DHSC has vastly over ordered and held five years supply of PPE across the seven major categories including gowns’ and because of limited lifespans for products ‘it was clear that the DHSC would never be able to use all the PPE they procured’, the firm said.
The statement continued: ‘Consultants were then brought in to pick over all the contracts and fight product not on quality but on contract technicalities that were never envisaged at the time of contract.
‘For example, PPE Medpro’s contract never specified double bagging of gowns.
‘Yet it became clear in late 2020 that all the gown manufacturers who had correctly produced single bagged gowns were being unfairly challenged by DHSC.
‘Despite numerous attempts at mediation with DHSC, it is clear they didn’t want to settle.
‘Too many gowns and other PPE items that will never enter the supply chain. That’s why DHSC currently have 174 disputes with suppliers to a value of £4 billion. Most of this product will be incinerated or given away.’
A DHSC spokesman said: ‘We can confirm we have commenced legal proceedings in the High Court against PPE Medpro Limited for breach of contract regarding gowns delivered under a contract dated June 26, 2020.
‘We do not comment on matters that are the subject of ongoing legal proceedings.’
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said: ‘After nearly a year of hiding behind a mediation process with a company linked to one of their own peers, Conservative ministers have finally been shamed into action to recover taxpayers’ money after damning revelations, public outcry and Labour pressure.
‘Time will now tell if the shoddy contracts they drew up are sufficiently robust to retrieve the public money they carelessly handed over.
‘Labour will put an end to this culture of Conservative cronyism and waste with a new plan for procurement and an Office for Value for Money to ensure taxpayers’ money is treated with respect.’
Lingerie tycoon Michelle Mone was born in 1971 and grew up in Glasgow’s East End, leaving school with no qualifications aged 15 before finding work as a model.
After running a sales and marketing team for the Labatt’s brewing firm, she decided to create a range of support bras after the idea came to her while wearing an uncomfortable bra during a dinner party.
Lady Mone founded MJM International with her then-husband Michael Mone in November 1996, and three years of research, design, and development resulted in the patented Ultimo bra.
In August 1999, a month after having her third child, she launched Ultimo at the Selfridges department store in London, which sold the pre-launch estimate of six weeks of stock within 24 hours.
The business grew rapidly and in 2010 she earned an OBE from the Queen for her contribution to business.
But she sold 80 per cent of Ultimo in 2014, one year after announcing she had left the company following a breakdown in her marriage.
Lady Mone was nicknamed ‘Baroness Bra’ after being elevated to the House of Lords in 2015, where her official title is Baroness Mone of Mayfair.
To celebrate her 50th birthday, she decided to host five parties – one for each decade of her life – with her new husband billionaire tech tycoon Doug Barrowman, 55.
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