‘They all knew’: Michelle Mone hits out at Rishi Sunak over PPE deals

Michelle Mone has condemned Rishi Sunak after he expressed concern at her admission she lied about involvement in a company that won lucrative deals during Covid, saying the government “knew about my involvement from the very beginning”.

After the former Conservative peer admitted in a BBC interview on Sunday that she had been untruthful in denying a connection to PPE Medpro, which made millions of pounds in profits over a contract to provide personal protective equipment, Sunak said No 10 was taking the case “incredibly seriously”.

Rishi Sunak: government taking Michelle Mone case ‘incredibly seriously’ – video

In a furious response to the prime minister’s comments, Mone tweeted: “What is Rishi Sunak talking about? I was honest with the Cabinet Office, the government and the NHS in my dealings with them. They all knew about my involvement from the very beginning.”

Her comments place even greater pressure on ministers to explain what they knew about the affair, particularly Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary. The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, has already called for Gove to make a statement on Mone and PPE Medpro,

In the interview on Sunday, Mone said she had not told the truth about her involvement in the firm 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.”

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

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.”

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 and is no longer in the party.

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.”

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 Gove, with an offer to supply PPE equipment.

Asked about the case during a visit to Leeds, Starmer called it “a shocking disgrace from top to bottom”, adding: “There are now serious questions that I think Michael Gove, 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 added: “I don’t think she should be in the Lords. I think the government should be held to account for this.”

Speaking to BBC One’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, Mone admitted that she and Barrowman, through their lawyers, repeatedly falsely denied 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.”