Rishi Sunak taking Michelle Mone case ‘incredibly seriously’

Downing Street takes the case of Michelle Mone “incredibly seriously”, Rishi Sunak has said, as Labour called for a Commons statement after the former Tory peer admitted she lied when denying involvement with a company that won UK government deals to provide personal protective equipment during the pandemic.

Pressure is increasing for action on Mone, who had repeatedly denied a connection to PPE Medpro, which made millions of pounds in profits during the pandemic, but conceded in an interview on Sunday that she had been untruthful.

Asked during a trip to Scotland about Mone’s admission, Sunak said: “The government takes these things incredibly seriously, which is why we’re pursuing legal action against the company concerned in these matters. That’s how seriously I take it and the government takes it.

“But it is also subject to an ongoing criminal investigation, and because of that, there’s not much further that I can add.”

In a BBC interview on Sunday, Mone said she had not told the truth about her involvement to protect her family from media attention. When it was put to her that she had admitted lying to the press, Mone replied: “That’s not a crime.”

Mone was made a Conservative peer by David Cameron in 2015, but has been on a leave of absence from the Lords since last year.

Speaking earlier on Monday, Lord Callanan, the energy efficiency minister, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he hoped Mone would not return to the upper house.

Asked whether as a self-confessed liar she should come back, Callanan said: “I would hope that she would see sense.” Pressed on what he meant, he added: “I would hope that she would not be coming back to the House of Lords.”

Michelle Mone admits she lied to media about PPE deals and profits – video

Guardian investigations found Mone and her husband, Doug Barrowman, were involved with PPE Medpro, which was awarded contracts worth £203m in May and June 2020 after she approached ministers, including Michael Gove, with an offer to supply PPE equipment.

Asked about the case during a visit to Leeds, Keir Starmer called it “a shocking disgrace from top to bottom”, adding: “I think that there are now serious questions that I think Michael Gove now, the government, needs to answer. Who made the original contact? What was the nature of that discussion that led to the situation that we now learn developed.”

“I think they should make a statement in the House of Commons today about this so that the public can hear first-hand what actually happened here.”

The Labour leader said: “I don’t think she should be in the Lords. I think the government should be held to account for this.”

Speaking to BBC1’s Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday, Mone admitted that she and Barrowman, through their lawyers, falsely denied repeatedly they had any connection to PPE Medpro.

She said she regretted having done so: “We’ve done a lot of good but if we were to say anything that we have done that we are sorry for, and that’s … we should have told the press straight up, straight away, nothing to hide … I was just protecting my family. And again, I’m sorry for that, but I wasn’t trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. No one.”