Man Arrested in Ongoing Criminal Probe into PPE Medpro

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has arrested a 46-year-old man in connection with its ongoing investigation into PPE Medpro, a company awarded substantial government contracts for personal protective equipment (PPE) during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The man, apprehended at his home in Barnet, North London, is suspected of conspiracy to commit fraud and attempting to pervert the course of justice. This arrest marks a significant development in the probe into PPE Medpro, which secured two contracts worth £203 million for PPE supply in the pandemic’s early months, bypassing normal competitive tendering regulations.

Conservative peer Michelle Mone and her husband, Douglas Barrowman, both involved with PPE Medpro, have previously been interviewed under caution by NCA investigators. However, Barrowman is not the individual arrested in this latest development.

In a statement, the NCA said: “A 46-year-old man from Barnet, London, was arrested this morning at his home address as part of an ongoing NCA investigation into suspected criminal offences committed in the procurement of PPE contracts by PPE Medpro. He is currently being interviewed by NCA officers.”

PPE Medpro received contracts for millions of face masks and sterile surgical gowns in May and June 2020, following an approach by Mone to Cabinet Office ministers Michael Gove and Theodore Agnew. These contracts were expedited through the government’s “VIP” high-priority lane, reserved for companies with political connections, as standard procurement rules were suspended due to the urgent need for medical supplies.

Michelle Mone, who gained public prominence with the lingerie company Ultimo, was appointed to the House of Lords by David Cameron in 2015. Douglas Barrowman, a Scottish businessman based in the Isle of Man, is the chair and founder of Knox Group, an offshore private wealth management firm.

In November 2022, The Guardian revealed leaked HSBC documents showing Barrowman received at least £65 million from PPE Medpro profits, transferring £29 million into an offshore trust benefitting Mone and her three adult children. In media interviews last year, Barrowman confirmed his substantial profits and the establishment of the trust, also stating his children were beneficiaries.

In December 2022, Mone took a leave of absence from the House of Lords to address the allegations against her. Despite initial denials of involvement with PPE Medpro, Mone admitted in a BBC interview that she had lied to the media, although she emphasised that it was not a criminal act.

The NCA’s investigation into PPE Medpro began in May 2021, with search warrants executed at the homes of Mone and Barrowman, and the company’s offices in London and the Isle of Man in April 2022. The Lords commissioner for standards also launched an investigation into Mone’s role in procuring PPE Medpro contracts, but this has been paused pending the outcome of the NCA’s criminal investigation.

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Man Arrested in Ongoing Criminal Probe into PPE Medpro