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cameron defends his decision to nominate baroness bra michelle mone for a peerage

Cameron defends his decision to nominate Baroness Bra Michelle Mone for a peerage

David Cameron has defended his decision to nominate Michelle Mone for a peerage as she and her husband face allegations of fraud and bribery. Baroness Mone was made a Tory life peer in 2015 after she was put forward by the then Prime Minister. During the pandemic, the lingerie tycoon lobbied the Cabinet Office to secure lucrative business for PPE Medpro, a company in which her husband Doug Barrowman was involved. The firm was then awarded contracts to supply the NHS with personal protective equipment (PPE) through the so-called VIP lane to fast-track preferred partners. However, the couple are now under investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA) as part of a fraud probe into PPE Medpro. Yesterday Lord Cameron – on his first visit to Scotland since becoming Foreign Secretary – was asked by STV News if he took any responsibility for Baroness Mone being able to refer her husband’s company as a PPE supplier via the VIP lane. He said: ‘Well, obviously Michelle Mone is responsible for what she does. ‘Yes, I did nominate her for a peerage because at the time, from what I could see, she was a successful businesswoman and entrepreneur, a proud Scot, a proud Brit and a proud Conservative.’ Around £75million of assets linked to Baroness Mone and Mr Barrowman have been frozen or restricted by a court order. Baroness Mone, who is on leave of absence from the Lords, and Mr Barrowman are being investigated over allegations of fraud and bribery, with a £3million payment into the baroness’s Coutts bank account forming part of the probe. Both Mr Barrowman and Baroness Mone deny the allegations. The frozen assets include a Belgravia townhouse in London, an estate on the Isle of Man, and 15 accounts at Coutts and Goldman Sachs International, according to the Financial Times. A spokesman for the couple said they were ‘happy to offer up’ the assets as it means ‘they can begin the task of proving their innocence more quickly’. Baroness Mone admitted she stands to benefit to the tune of millions of pounds from items sold to the UK by PPE Medpro. The firm is being sued by the Department of Health and Social Care for £122million, as well as costs, for ‘breach of contract and unjust enrichment’. Glasgow-born Lady Mone has admitted she lied when she previously denied having connections to PPE Medpro. She now accepts she was involved and that Mr Barrowman made more than £60million profit, much of which was paid into an offshore trust. Millions of medical gowns the firm provided were never used but the couple have said they met the terms of the contract. Last month Mr Barrowman, who is also from Glasgow, claimed he and his wife have been ‘hung out to dry’ over the Government’s Covid PPE failings. Meanwhile, Lord Cameron yesterday met the family of Dumbarton man Jagtar Singh Johal, who has been held in an Indian prison for more than six years. Mr Johal was arrested in 2017 during a visit to India. It is alleged he was tortured and now faces the death penalty as a result of his campaigning for Sikh rights. While not calling for Mr Johal to be released, Lord Cameron said: ‘I take these cases very seriously. The Indian government has got to speed up this case.’

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