Michelle Mone’s ex-lawyer apologises to BBC for misleading comments about Tory donations

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Politics
Michelle Mone

A former lawyer for Baroness Mone has apologised to the BBC for false statements he made about money her husband, Doug Barrowman, gave to the Conservative Party.

Lawyer Jonathan Coad told BBC News in December 2020 that Mr Barrowman had no ownership role with a firm that has donated more than £150,000 to the Tories since 2017.

But evidence has since emerged that suggests that was not the case.

Mr Barrowman has declined to comment.

Mr Coad has already apologised for misleading journalists about Baroness Mone’s links to PPE Medpro, which is being sued by the government for supplying medical equipment worth £122m that has never been used.

PPE Medpro is defending the claim.

Last month, the former Tory peer admitted in a BBC interview that she had lied to journalists about her involvement with the firm but said that was “not a crime”.

The couple’s former lawyer told BBC News by email this week he had had “no reason to doubt” the representations he made on their behalf in 2020 because Mr Barrowman was a “successful and respected businessman and Baroness Mone was a member of the Upper House”.

He said he had also received corroboration for the couple’s representations about PPE Medpro from other lawyers and he had been shown supporting documents.

Asked whether it had been misleading to say Mr Barrowman had no “ownership” of Lancaster Knox – the firm that was involved in the £150,000-worth of donations – Jonathan Coad offered an “unqualified apology”.

Lancaster Knox is part of the Knox Group which HMRC says belongs to Mr Barrowman, it has emerged.

“It is now clear that representations I made to you in my email were false,” Mr Coad said. “For the reasons I have explained they were however made in good faith.”

“I was nonetheless the unwitting means of you/the BBC being misled.”

A Tax Tribunal ruling in 2022, which found another of Mr Barrowman’s firm’s had failed to provide HMRC with legally-required information, described Lancaster Knox as part of his Isle of Man Knox Group of companies.

Baroness Mone and Doug Barrowman say the government knew of their involvement with PPE Medpro before the firm won two contracts worth more than £200m to supply personal protective equipment in the Spring and Summer of 2020.

She has admitted she stands to benefit from tens of millions of pounds of profits.

It means the Conservative Party not only faces questions about whether the government gave special treatment to one of its own peers in directly awarding Covid contracts to PPE Medpro but also one of its donors.

A spokesperson for the Department for Health and Social Care said: “Due diligence was carried out on all companies and every company was subjected to the same checks.”

The Conservative Party has been approached for comment.

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