Michelle Mone’s home was raided while a PPE firm was investigated in connection with Tory pear | Conservatives

The National Crime Agency has launched a potential fraud investigation into a PPE firm linked to Michelle Mone and has searched the Tory colleague’s shared home.

The NCA investigation concerns PPE Medpro, a company that secured more than £200 million in government contracts by the start of the pandemic without a public tender.

On Wednesday, the agency searched several properties related to the company in the Isle of Man and London. They include the Isle of Man office building where PPE Medpro is registered and the mansion where Lady Mone lives with her husband, business magnate Douglas Barrowman.

The Isle of Man Police on Wednesday confirmed that search warrants had been issued at four addresses on the island “in support of an ongoing NCA investigation.” There were no arrests.

More than a dozen law enforcement officers reportedly showed up unexpectedly at the Knox House building in the island’s capital, Douglas, where the Isle of Man company PPE Medpro is registered. A witness described that the building was guarded by officers at both the front and rear.

The officers are said to have taken documents, computers, telephones and other electronic devices from the building.

An address was also sought on Wardour Street in central London, the office of the UK-registered PPE Medpro company that had been awarded two government contracts worth £203 million. An employee of that building told the Guardian: “It’s a ‘no comment’ all round.” Lawyers for PPE Medpro declined to comment.

There is no evidence that the NCA’s investigation is related to cases that have previously been the subject of public controversy. However, the inquiry is likely to raise questions about the wider £12bn in PPE contracts awarded by the government during the pandemic under emergency rules that circumvented normal competitive tendering procedures.

It will also refocus on both PPE Medpro and the process through which the company secured its government contracts. It has been the focus of multiple controversies in recent months that have embroiled Mone and other senior Tories, including Michael Gove, Theodore Agnew and James Bethell.

The company was one of 51 companies processed through a government-operated “VIP avenue” to accelerate businesses recommended by politically connected individuals.

The Guardian has previously reported that Mone approached Medpro Gove, Lord Agnew and Lord Bethell on behalf of PPE. All were ministers involved in pandemic tenders at the time.

Michelle Mone and Douglas Barrowman at a charity dinner in 2019. Photo: David M Benett/Getty Images

Mone appears to have played a key role in Agnew’s entry into PPE Medpro in May 2020.

In January, The Guardian reported that leaked files appeared to suggest that Mone and Barrowman were secretly involved in the PPE Medpro business. At the time, Mone’s lawyers said in response that the Guardian’s findings were “based entirely on assumptions and speculation and not on accuracy”.

The House of Lords standards commissioner Martin Jelley then launched an ongoing investigation into whether Mone’s ties to the company violated the rules regarding members. She has denied any allegation.

In response to previous stories, Mone’s lawyers have said any suggestion of an association or conspiracy between the Tory pear and PPE Medpro would be “inaccurate” and that she was not involved with the company. “Baroness Mone is in no way an investor, director or shareholder associated with PPE Medpro. She never had a role or function in PPE Medpro, nor in the process of awarding contracts to PPE Medpro.”

Mone’s lawyers have said that after she took the “simple, lonely and short step” of referring PPE Medpro to the government, she did nothing more with regard to the company.

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Barrowman’s attorneys similarly removed him from the company, but they did not specify whether he benefited financially from the company.

It is not known whether the search of PPE Medpro-associated properties is part of a wider NBA investigation into possible fraud related to PPE purchase during the pandemic. In a statement, the NCA said, “The NCA does not routinely confirm or deny the existence of investigations or the names of those who may or may not be investigated.”

Medpro’s first government contract, worth £80.85 million for the supply of face masks, was awarded by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) at the end of May 2020. The second, a £122 million contract to supply 25 million sterile surgical gowns, was awarded in June 2020 but was the subject of a major contractual dispute.

The government has rejected PPE Medpro’s gowns after checks in the UK and has said it wants her money back through a dispute settlement process. PPE Medpro has maintained that it has adhered to the terms of the contract for dresses and is entitled to keep the money paid.

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