Scottish Tory peer Michelle Mone faces scrutiny over alleged involvement in the VIP lane for PPE supply during the pandemic, exposing Tory cronyism and profiteering from a global catastrophe.

S cottish Tory peer Michelle Mone, who was awarded a seat in the House of Lords by David Cameron for her services to trolling on behalf of the Yookay during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum has been in the news recently over allegations about her role in a so-called VIP lane contract for PPE.

PPE Medpro, a company owned and controlled by Mone’s husband was awarded Government contracts worth more than £200 million to supply personal protective equipment after she made use of the so-called VIP lane to recommend it to ministers. Much of the equipment supplied was later deemed to be unfit for use. Mone and her husband stand to gain millions of pounds from the deal.

Mone at first denied she had any involvement in the contract, sending aggressive and threatening legal letters to journalists reporting on facts that Mone now admits were true.

The Michelle Mone story broke in January 2022, but it was five months before BBC Scotland reported the scandal. BBC Scotland has shown a marked reluctance to cover the story despite the fact it involves a prominent Scottish Tory member of the Lords. BBC Scotland was very keen to publicise Mone when she was mouthing off about the supposed evils of Scottish independence and her ‘threats’ to leave Scotland if the country became independent. She was then given even more publicity when she complained about the abuse she claimed to have received for speaking out against independence, none of which were substantiated. In the event Scotland did not vote to become independent but Mone buggered off anyway, an event BBC Scotland was as quiet about as it has been about the PPE scandal she has been embroiled in for the past two years.

On Sunday, Mone and her husband appeared on the BBC in a softball interview with Laura Kuenssberg which had apparently been set up by the same press advisor who told Prince Andrew that the best thing to do was to appear in an interview that the allegations that he’d been involved with a sex trafficked teen with whom the sweaty prince appeared in a now notorious photo could not be true as he was unable to sweat and in any case he’d been in a Pizza Hut in Woking at the time.

The takeaway from this interview is Mone and Barrowman’s claim that they don’t have the money from the PPE, it’s just resting in their trust fund. Didn’t Father Ted offer a similar excuse? Naturally, the BBC Scotland news quickly skipped through the latest twist in this Scottish Conservative saga in 40 seconds.

The simple fact remains uncontested no matter how Mone tries to spin it. There was a global catastrophe during which millions died, 200,000 in the UK alone, and countless millions of others had their lives blighted, jobs lost, families destroyed and grieving. The natural response of any normal decent human being when faced with tragedy on such an immense scale is sympathy, grief, empathy, and compassion.

— Kuenssberg did not ask Mone about the legal threats she’d been making to journalists for reporting on facts Mone now concedes were true.

That however was not the reaction of Mone and her husband Doug Barrowman. Their response when confronted with unthinkable human tragedy was to profiteer from it and take advantage of it in order to enrich themselves. It’s obscene behaviour. Just because others did the same thing that doesn’t mean that it’s OK. It means that Mone and her husband are just as nasty and bereft of a moral compass or a basic grasp of human decency as they are.

Kuenssberg did not ask Mone about the legal threats she’d been making to journalists for reporting on facts Mone now concedes were true. Instead, Mone yet again was allowed to play the victim. The excuses she gave were as convincing as Prince Andrew’s sweating story and equally likely to backfire. Her only sin, she claimed, was to lie to the press about her involvement, which she pointed out was not a crime. She insisted that she was being made a scapegoat for the gross incompetence of the Conservatives, a party she was happy to support until very recently.

Mone and her husband are currently being investigated by the police for their role in this sordid affair. Both vehemently deny any allegations of wrongdoing.

Mone and her husband are just the latest in a long line of awful, greedy, entitled, amoral opportunists who automatically assume that their wealth and status will insulate them from the laws and obligations that bind the rest of us. And, the truly appalling thing is, they’re right.

Irrespective of the outcome of the police investigation, none of this would have happened had David Cameron not given Mone a seat in the Lords or if the Tories had not opened up a preferential route to lucrative government contracts for friends and associates of cabinet ministers. Both of these events point to the rotten corruption at the very heart of the Westminster system.

The House of Lords is institutionalised cronyism. It makes cronyism and patronage a central tenet of government. The Lords doesn’t need to be reformed, it needs to be abolished. Mone is what you get when cronyism becomes an institution and a central pillar of government. We are so used to this way of doing things that we no longer appreciate just how corrupt the British state is, to its very core.

PMP Magazine



Text: This piece was first published in Wee Ginger Dug and re-published in PMP Magazine on 22 December 2023 under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence. | The author writes in a personal capacity.
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