Labour will on Tuesday use a vote in parliament to try to force the publication of secret texts and emails relating to £200m of Covid PPE contracts secured by a company linked to Conservative peer Michelle Mone.
The party’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said that Tory MPs would be “complicit in a cover-up” if they voted against a motion for the publication of all communications by ministers or advisers with PPE Medpro.
Baroness Mone has come under pressure since it was reported that she is a beneficiary of an offshore trust believed to have received £29m from PPE Medpro’s profits.
A House of Lords standards inquiry over allegations she failed to declare an interest in the company has been put on hold while a police investigation takes place.
The former lingerie entrepreneur, ennobled by David Cameron in 2015, has previously denied benefiting financially and has claimed she “was not connected to PPE Medpro in any capacity”.
Labour now plans to use a “humble address” to force the release of “all papers, advice, and correspondence involving ministers and special advisers” to the cross-party Commons public accounts committee.
The parliamentary procedure has been successfully used in the past to force the release of documents by the government.
The vote comes a day after former health secretary Matt Hancock claimed that Lady Mone had aggressively lobbied him on behalf of another company in a row over a different set of contracts last year.
In his diaries, published on Monday, he wrote: “Baroness Michelle Mone has sent me an extraordinarily aggressive email complaining that a company she’s helping isn’t getting the multimillion-pound contracts it deserves.
“She claims the firm, which makes lateral flow test kits, ‘has had a dreadful time’ trying to cut through red tape and demanded my ‘urgent help’ before it all comes out in the media. ‘I am going to blow this all wide open,’ she threatened.”
PPE Medpro was awarded two contracts without tender for masks and gowns with a total value of £203m in 2020, but the gowns were never used after failing NHS quality checks.
Ms Rayner said: “Britain is sick of being ripped off by the Tories. We want our money back.
“Tory MPs can either back Labour’s binding vote to force ministers to come clean on the murky award of £203m in taxpayers’ money to a shady company linked to a Tory peer or they are choosing to be complicit in a cover-up.
“The ‘VIP lane’ for PPE is a scandal of epic proportions that has allowed the shameful waste of taxpayers’ money and inexcusable profiteering by Tory cronies.”
Ms Rayner also called on prime minister Rishi Sunak to back Labour amendments to the Procurement Bill to prevent purchase decisions being made by ministers without competitive bidding processes.
“Instead of straining every sinew to claw back taxpayers’ money, and fresh from writing off the billions he carelessly lost to Covid fraud, Rishi Sunak is pushing a Procurement Bill full of loopholes that would give Tory ministers free rein to do it all over again,” she said.
Liberal Democrats called for the publication of documents related to the PPE Medpro contracts, alongside any emails and text messages between Baroness Mone and government ministers.
The party’s Cabinet Office spokesperson Christine Jardine said: “The public deserves to know the full details of how Baroness Mone and this company landed these contracts. We shouldn’t have to read Matt Hancock’s diary to find out the details of what happened.
“In the midst of a global health crisis, Conservative ministers allowed their friends to cash in on human suffering, skip the queue and receive millions in PPE contracts.
“It’s been nearly three years since the start of the pandemic, but the public is still being drip-fed new scandals through leaks and bombshell revelations teased out in interviews. How many more are left to uncover?
“It’s time for Tory MPs to call time on this Conservative cronyism and back calls for transparency rather than voting for a cover-up.”