Michelle Mone expresses anger towards former health minister for his ‘missing text messages’

Disgraced Tory peer responds to accusation of dishonesty regarding PPE Medpro links

Michelle Mone has retaliated against a former Conservative health minister after he alleged that she was not truthful with him about her financial interests during the pandemic.

James Bethell had questioned the claim made by the disgraced Conservative peer that she had informed government officials about her connections with PPE Medpro, a consortium led by her husband, while it was bidding for contracts that resulted in significant profits for the company.

On Monday, in response to a post by Mone on X discussing Rishi Sunak, Lord Bethell accused her of being “dishonest” about her financial interest and shared a screenshot of a message she had sent to him in 2020, claiming it was “typical” of her behavior.

In an apparent jab at Bethell for the criticism he faced over replacing his phone during the pandemic, Mone replied on X the following morning: “You seem to have magically discovered access to your text messages from 2020. Now that you’ve finally found them, will you be submitting them all to the Covid inquiry?” Mone appended a popcorn emoji.

An intense dispute between Mone and the government erupted on Monday concerning how much knowledge there was regarding her connections to PPE Medpro, which generated substantial profits from a contract to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic. Mone admitted in a BBC interview on Sunday that she had not been truthful in denying any affiliation with PPE Medpro.

She also claimed that the Cabinet Office, led by Michael Gove at the time, as well as the government and the NHS, “were all aware of my involvement from the very beginning” before awarding her husband’s company £203m in contracts.

When Sunak was questioned during a visit to Scotland on Monday about Mone’s confession that she had lied about her involvement in the company, he responded: “The government takes these matters extremely seriously, which is why we are pursuing legal action against the company in question. That’s how seriously I take it, and that’s how seriously the government takes it. However, there is an ongoing criminal investigation, so there isn’t much more I can add.”

Guardian investigations revealed that Mone and her husband, Doug Barrowman, were associated with PPE Medpro, which received contracts in May and June 2020 following Mone’s proposal to supply PPE to ministers, including Gove.

According to the House of Lords, Mone remains a Tory peer despite No 10’s claim that she had “de facto” lost the whip due to taking a leave of absence when the scandal emerged. It was revealed on Monday that she is no longer a party member.

The Guardian understands that the House of Lords standards commissioner has received an additional complaint regarding Mone’s admission of lying to the media. The watchdog has already initiated an investigation into the matter.

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