Government starts legal proceedings against firm allegedly linked to Baroness Michelle Mone at centre of PPE supply row
The Government has launched civil proceedings against a company said to be linked to fellow Tory Baroness Michelle Mone and at the center of a dispute over the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic.
A Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) spokesman said: “We can confirm that we have commenced legal proceedings in the High Court against PPE Medpro Limited for breach of contract in relation to gowns supplied under a contract dated 26 June 2020 became.
“We do not comment on matters that are the subject of ongoing legal proceedings.”
PPE Medpro said the case over the supply of sterile gowns was “rigorously defended” and accused the DHSC of a “cynical attempt to recover money from suppliers” who acted in good faith.
A statement said: “PPE Medpro will demonstrate to the courts that we delivered our gowns to the right specifications on time and at a highly competitive price.
“The case will also demonstrate DHSC’s complete inability to source and specify PPE correctly during the emergency procurement period. This will be the true legacy of the trial and will be played out in public for all to see.”
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The company was at the center of a Westminster controversy that saw Tory peer Baroness Michelle Mone take a leave of absence from the Lords after being linked to allegations.
Reports – which have been denied by Lady Mone – suggest the peer may have benefited from the firms winning more than £200million in contracts to supply equipment after failing to do so in the early days of the coronavirus -pandemic recommended to ministers.
PPE Medpro claims the government department is at odds over “contractual details” e.g. B. whether gowns are single or double wrapped because she had “severely overordered” protective gear.
The company said it had made “numerous attempts at mediation with DHSC, but they were unwilling to come to an agreement.”
PPE Medpro’s statement said: “Over a two-month period, from July to the end of August 2020, PPE Medpro supplied DHSC with 25 million sterile gowns.
“The gowns were manufactured to the right quality, to the standards and specifications set out in the contract, delivered on time and at a price that was 50% of what DHSC was paying at the time.”
But “By the end of 2020, it was clear that DHSC had significantly overordered and stocked PPE in the seven main categories, including gowns, for five years,” and due to the limited lifespan of the products, “it was clear that DHSC would never be able to.” would use all PPE they procured”.
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“Consultants were then brought in to review all contracts and fight the product not because of quality but because of contract engineering, which was never envisaged at the time the contract was signed.
“For example, PPE Medpro’s contract never specified double bagging of gowns. Nonetheless, by the end of 2020 it became clear that all gown manufacturers who had correctly produced plain wrapped gowns were being unfairly challenged by DHSC.
“Despite numerous mediation attempts with DHSC, it is clear that they did not want to reach an agreement.
“Too many gowns and other PPE items that will never make it into the supply chain. Because of this, DHSC currently has 174 disputes with suppliers worth £4billion. Most of this product is burned or given away.”
Ministers are under significant pressure to explain how they assessed PPE Medpro’s suitability to receive Government contracts worth more than £200m during the pandemic.
That was announced earlier this month Lady Mone would take a leave of absence from the House of Lords with immediate effect.
A spokesman for Lady Mone said: “Baroness Mone will take a leave of absence from the House of Lords with immediate effect to clear her name of the allegations that have been wrongly leveled against her.”
PPE Medpro received orders to manufacture surgical gowns and masks during the COVID Pandemic after Lady Mone reported the firm to ministers through a so-called flag VIP lane system.
She has since been accused of profiting from the deal but has consistently denied any “role or function” at the company, with lawyers previously saying she was “in no way affiliated with PPE Medpro”.
Lady Mone is currently under investigation by the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards. Parliament’s website said the inquiry relates to “alleged involvement in the procurement of contracts for PPE Medpro leading to potential breaches… of the House of Lords’ code of conduct”.
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said earlier this month: “Due diligence has been carried out on all companies that have been referred to the Department and each company has been subject to the same checks.
“We acted quickly to source PPE at the height of the pandemic and compete in an overheated global market where demand massively outstripped supply.”