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Michelle Mone, Baroness Mone

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The Baroness Mone
Michelle Mone (Ultimo founder) 2013.jpg
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
15 October 2015
Life peerage
Personal details
Born
Michelle Georgina Allan

(1971-10-08) 8 October 1971 (age 50)
Glasgow, Scotland
Political partyConservative
Other political
affiliations
Labour (until 2009)
Spouse(s)
ResidenceLondon, United Kingdom
OccupationBusinesswoman, parliamentarian
Known forFounder of Ultimo

Michelle Georgina Mone, Baroness Mone, OBE (née Allan; born 8 October 1971 in Glasgow, Scotland) is a British businesswoman and parliamentarian. In 1996 she and her husband Michael Mone founded MJM International Ltd and the lingerie company Ultimo, which she sold in 2014. While working for MJM, she promoted naturopathic diet pills from TrimSecrets, which were criticised by the British Dietetic Association.

In 2015, she became a Conservative life peer. In 2020, it was revealed by The Guardian that Mone's husband was involved with PPE Medpro, a company supplying personal protective equipment to the NHS. The company had been given two controversial fast-tracked contracts during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom after it had been recommended to the government by Mone four days prior to its official establishment. These contracts were investigated by the House of Lords commissioner for standards in January 2022.

Business career[edit]

Mone obtained a marketing job with the Labatt brewing company and, within two years, had risen to become its head of marketing in Scotland.[1] She was then made redundant by the company, prompting her to set up her own business, and has since admitted that she invented qualifications on her CV to obtain the job.[1]

MJM International[edit]

In November 1996 she founded MJM International with her then-husband Michael.[2] In August 1999, Mone launched the Ultimo lingerie brand at Selfridges department store in London. Mone came up with the idea for the Ultimo bra, the brand's first product when she was wearing an uncomfortable cleavage-enhancing bra one day and believed she could create a more comfortable cleavage-enhancing bra.[3] Mone had read about a new silicone product while on holiday in Florida and approached the company to obtain its European licence to produce bras.[1] Mone has claimed that an Ultimo bra was worn by Julia Roberts in the Hollywood movie, Erin Brockovich, but this was refuted by the film's creators.[4] Ultimo went on to include other products, such as backless dresses and shapewear, which led to MJM International's growth.[5][6]

In 2014, a former operations director for MJM won a claim for unfair dismissal from her company after discovering that Mone had authorised electronic bugging of his office.[7] Mone threatened to sue her critics when it was revealed her company MJM International had paid a substantial sum of money into a controversial tax avoidance scheme, criticised by Chancellor George Osborne as "morally repugnant".[8] Following a test case brought by HMRC against Rangers F.C., the employee benefit trust (the type of tax avoidance scheme used by MJM International) was ruled illegal in November 2015.[9] Following the breakdown of her relationship with her husband, Mone left the company briefly in 2013. The business assets were transferred to its parent firm, Ultimo Brands International Ltd, in a partnership with MAS Holdings.[2] MJM International was then dissolved. In November 2014, Mone sold down her stake in Ultimo Brands International to 20% to partner MAS Holdings.[10] In August 2015, Mone resigned her directorships of both MJM and Ultimo, saying she had sold 80% of the latter.[10]

TrimSecrets and weight loss[edit]

TrimSecrets were weight loss pills originally formulated by the naturopath, Jan de Vries. The product also consisted of diet and exercise advice.[11] In 2006 MJM formed a joint venture with Jan de Vries, taking a 50% share in the product.[12][11] Mone claimed that exercise and reduced caloric intake had no effect on her weight and has credited TrimSecrets pills with her weight loss.[11] Mone also incorrectly claimed the efficacy of the product had been proven in clinical trials, however, when questioned further, she explained that circa 60 users had completed a questionnaire but was unable to produce the results.[12]

In October 2013, Jan de Vries sold his interest in the company with Mone having 60% of the business and a silent business partner the remaining 40%.[11] In August 2015 it was reported that the company had made a loss in each of the last four years that accounts were available.[13]

In November 2015, Mone was criticised for using her "Baroness Mone"-styled Twitter account to promote TrimSecrets pills, although a spokesman for Mone said she had disposed of her ownership of the firm before her tweet. A spokesman for the British Dietetic Association said "there is no scientific basis or rationale for these products, they are making claims which are unfounded and feeding into public confusion around nutrition and pseudo-science."[14]

In 2007, Mone said she kept fit by running around meeting to meeting.[15] On Loose Women in 2020, she said she lost weight through hiring a nutritionist and trainer full-time.[16]

Ultimo Beauty / Ubeauty Global[edit]

In 2012 Mone's company, Ultimo Beauty, launched a fake tan product.[17][18] In 2014 when announcing that she had sold most of her stake in Ultimo, she confirmed she had taken 100% control of Ubeauty Global, consisting of the assets of Ultimo Beauty.[19]

In 2016, after she was made a peer, Mone changed the company formation so that it no longer had to publish public trading accounts. In February 2017 accounts for the company were published, covering the time from 2014 to 2016 and it was revealed the company had assets of £23,000.[20] In March 2017, Mone announced that she had sold the company.[21]

Political career[edit]

Mone says she previously supported the Labour Party, as did her family, but withdrew her support in 2009 after the prime minister, Gordon Brown, increased the top income tax rate to 50%, also indicating that she would leave the UK. She further stated that Brown and his government mismanaged the country's finances during the global economic crisis.[22] During the London riots in August 2011, Mone called for the army to be brought in and tweeted "People who riot, steal, cover face deserve zero human rights".[23] In January 2012, she gave an interview to The Sunday Times stating her intention to move herself and her business to England were Scotland to become independent following the 2014 referendum on the issue.[24] However, despite Scotland voting No in the referendum, Mone confirmed a few months later that she was leaving Scotland.[25]

On 10 August 2015, the government announced that Mone would lead a two-part review into entrepreneurship and small businesses, particularly focusing upon setting up small businesses in deprived areas, under the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith.[26][27] On 27 August 2015, the prime minister, David Cameron, announced a list of new creations of life peers, including Mone.[28] Her inclusion drew criticism from other business leaders.[29] Some Conservatives questioned her suitability for the House of Lords.[30][31] Senior Scottish Conservatives also criticised Cameron's action, describing Mone as "a public relations creation, a personal brand rather than a serious businesswoman".[32]

Mone was criticised when her first vote in the House of Lords was to vote against a motion to delay government cuts to tax credits of around £1300 a year for three million low-income families. Mone responded to the controversy by tweeting that people should "work hard" and not "look for excuses" for their own poverty.[33] In October 2016 she said that she was wrong to support the cuts and she regretted the way she voted.[34] By early 2022, Mone had made only five speeches in the House of Lords and asked 22 written questions.[35]

PPE Medpro[edit]

In October 2020 it was revealed that PPE Medpro, a company led by Anthony Page, a business associate of Mone and her husband Doug Barrowman, had been awarded a contract for £122 million to supply personal protective equipment (PPE) to the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic.[36] Page resigned as secretary for MGM Media, the company that manages and receives payment for Mone's branding and media engagements and on the same day he formed Medpro.[37] In October 2020, a spokeswoman for Mone stated she "has no role or involvement in PPE Medpro", adding: "Mr Barrowman is also not involved in the company PPE Medpro and is not a Director or Shareholder."[38] It later emerged that a second contract for £80 million was awarded to Medpro even earlier when the company was just 4 weeks old.[39][40]

In November 2021, a Freedom of Information request revealed that Mone personally recommended the company to the government through its VIP fast-track lane for firms with political connections and that the company was awarded £200m in government contracts. This high-priority process was set up in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to bypass the normal competitive tender process for procurement that was considered urgent. It further emerged in January 2022 that Mone recommended Medpro for a government contract five days before the company had been formed.[41] At the time, Mone's lawyers stated that she "was not connected to PPE Medpro in any capacity" but documents leaked to The Guardian revealed that a director of the company was a long term employee of Mone's husband's company. WhatsApp messages seen by The Guardian appeared to show Mone discussing the size of garments that formed part of a contract. Lawyers for Mone and her husband denied the allegations.[42] Following a complaint by the Labour peer George Foulkes, the House of Lords commissioner for standards launched an investigation into the relationship between Mone and Medpro in January 2022.[43]

Awards and recognition[edit]

On 21 November 2002, Paisley University awarded her an honorary doctorate.[44] Mone was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her "services to the lingerie industry" in the 2010 New Year Honours.[45][46][47]

After consultation with the College of Arms, on 30 September 2015, she was created a life peer as "Baroness Mone, of Mayfair in the City of Westminster".[48] She was introduced in the House of Lords on 15 October by fellow Conservative peers Lord Freud and Baroness Morris of Bolton.[49]

Personal life[edit]

Born on 8 October 1971,[50] Michelle Allan grew up in Glasgow's East End. Mone's younger brother died as a result of spina bifida.[51]

Mone left school aged 15, with no qualifications,[1] to pursue a modelling career. At 17 she met her future husband, Michael Mone and by 18 years old, Michelle was pregnant with her first child, Rebecca. She then converted from Protestantism to Catholicism and married Michael, an anaesthetist's son from a Catholic family.[1] The couple had three children during their marriage. On 27 December 2011, lawyers announced the couple's formal separation after 20 years of marriage.[52][53]

Mone has appeared on a number of TV programmes, including The Apprentice and 71 Degrees North.[1]

On 26 December 2018 Mone announced her engagement to billionaire businessman Douglas Barrowman. They were married on 29 November 2020.[54] In December 2021, a wealth manager of Indian heritage accused Mone of sending racist text messages to him after the two were involved in a 2019 yachting incident in Monaco, which resulted in the death of a person. He said that Mone called him "a waste of a man's white skin" via text.[55] A spokesperson for Mone said she was not racist because "Baroness Mone and her husband have built over 15 schools in Africa in the past three years"; this was followed by a message from her lawyers, who said that Mone could not access her messages and had no "detailed memory of them".[56] The allegations of racism were referred to the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards, but commissioners did not investigate the matter as Mone's comments were said in a personal capacity and not in her capacity as a member of the House of Lords.[56] In January 2022, the Metropolitan Police announced they were investigating the incident after receipt of an allegation of a racially aggravated malicious communication.[57]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Carole Cadwalladr (12 September 2010). "The first lady of lingerie". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Michelle Mone's lingerie firm MJM International reports losses". BBC News. 26 September 2014.
  3. ^ Robarts, Guy (12 October 2005). "The sweet swell of success". BBC News.
  4. ^ "Michelle Mone's office guilty of 'Wiki Washing' her online biography". Herald Scotland.
  5. ^ Morgan, Georgia (11 November 2014). "In Pictures Model Abbey Clancy in latest Ultimo underwear range Party Solutions". Liverpool Echo.
  6. ^ "Michelle Mone's former lingerie brand Ultimo to cease UK trading". The Scotsman. 11 April 2018.
  7. ^ "Michelle Mone's lingerie firm loses Scott Kilday tribunal". BBC News. 26 February 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  8. ^ "Michelle Mone threatens to sue critics". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  9. ^ "Michelle Mone denies wrongdoing over EBTs". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  10. ^ a b "Michelle Mone announces Ultimo stake sale". BBC News. 3 November 2014.
  11. ^ a b c d "Michelle Mone takes full control of diet business". The Scotsman. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  12. ^ a b Cadwalladr, Carole. "The first lady of lingerie". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  13. ^ "Evening Times: Under-fire Start-up Tsar Mone Quits Bra Firm Board". Press Reader. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  14. ^ "Baroness Michelle Mone Branded 'Irresponsible' For Promoting Pill That Aids Weight Loss On Twitter". Huffington Post UK. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  15. ^ "Michelle's cup runs over with bold plans; the Monday interview In association with RBS One of the country's top entrepreneurs is in the region today to launch her new lingerie concession. Urmee Kham caught up with Ultimo founder Michelle Mone". The Free Library. The Journal (Newcastle). Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  16. ^ "Michelle Mone tells Loose Women she exercises three times a day during lockdown". Glasgow Times. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  17. ^ "Michelle Mone: Life's starting to take shape". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  18. ^ "Michelle Mone Interview - STYLEetc Magazine - July2012 (short edit)". YouTube. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  19. ^ "Michelle Mone announces Ultimo stake sale". BBC News. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  20. ^ "Firm behind Michelle Mone's '£1m fake tan' worth less than £25,000". Glasgow Times. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  21. ^ "Michelle Mone sells her fledgling fake tan business UTan". Glasgow Times. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  22. ^ "Lingerie boss drops her support for Labour". The Sunday Times. 25 April 2009.
  23. ^ "Is Michelle Mone the right person to help poor Britons start up businesses?". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  24. ^ "Scottish independence: Michelle Mone threatens to leave Scotland". BBC News. 29 January 2012. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  25. ^ "Michelle Mone confirms she will leave Scotland". The Scotsman. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  26. ^ "A match made in heaven? Iain Duncan Smith and Michelle Mone join forces". The National. 11 August 2015.
  27. ^ "Ultimo founder Michelle Mone to lead entrepreneurship review". BBC News. 11 August 2015. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  28. ^ "Bra tycoon Michelle Mone to be made Tory Peer, reports claim". STV News. 1 August 2015. Archived from the original on 3 August 2015.
  29. ^ "Business leaders have hit out at Mone peerage". The Herald. 28 August 2015.
  30. ^ "Millionaire businessman calls on UK Government to explain Mone appointment". The Herald. 15 August 2015.
  31. ^ "Major Tory donor latest to question Mone's Government appointment". The Herald. 23 August 2015.
  32. ^ "Scots Tories cringe over Mone appointment". The Scotsman. 16 August 2015. Archived from the original on 18 September 2017.
  33. ^ "Tax Credits: Michelle Mone hit by backlash after tweeting people should be 'proactive' and never 'look for excuses'". The Independent. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  34. ^ "Michelle Mone admits: 'I made mistake backing tax credit cuts'". The Scotsman. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  35. ^ Armitage, Jim (9 January 2022). "Michelle Mone may face Lords investigation over PPE Medpro contract". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 9 January 2022. Retrieved 18 January 2022.
  36. ^ Williams, Martin. "Why government awarded "urgent" PPE contract to firm run by ex-associate of Tory peer Michelle Mone". The Herald. Retrieved 9 January 2022.
  37. ^ Williams, Martin. "Why government awarded "urgent" PPE contract to firm run by ex-associate of Tory peer Michelle Mone". The Herald. Retrieved 9 January 2022.
  38. ^ Sommerlad, Nick. "Company run by ex-associate of Tory peer Michelle Mone wins £112million NHS contract". Daily Record. Retrieved 9 January 2022.
  39. ^ Watson, Jeremy (25 November 2021). "Call for Baroness Mone to face inquiry over PPE firm". The Times. Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  40. ^ Gross, Anna; Kelly, Jemima (23 November 2021). "Leaked government email reveals Tory peer's anger at treatment of PPE company". Financial Times. Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  41. ^ "Michelle Mone referred company for PPE contracts five days before it was incorporated". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 January 2022.
  42. ^ Conn, David; Lewis, Paul; Davies, Harry (6 January 2022). "Tory peer Michelle Mone secretly involved in PPE firm she referred to government". The Guardian.
  43. ^ Conn, David (17 January 2022). "Lords watchdog launches inquiry into Michelle Mone over 'VIP lane' contract". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  44. ^ "University of Paisley Honorary Doctors of the University of Paisley". Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 July 2014. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
  45. ^ "No. 59282". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2009. p. 11.
  46. ^ "New Year Honours 2010". Scottish Government. 31 December 2009.
  47. ^ "The incredible rags-to-riches story of lingerie tycoon Michelle Mone". Business Insider. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  48. ^ "notice 2409420". The London Gazette. 2 October 2015.
  49. ^ "Ex-lingerie mogul Michelle takes Lords seat as Baroness Mone of Mayfair". STV News. 15 October 2015. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  50. ^ "Michelle Mone, the Bra Queen". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  51. ^ "Michelle Mone: The First Lady of Lingerie laid bare". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  52. ^ "Michelle Mone in 'amicable' split from husband Michael". Daily Mirror. 29 December 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  53. ^ "Michelle Mone's ex-husband's rival lingerie firm goes bust". The Herald. 6 October 2017.
  54. ^ "Michelle Mone's mansion plans fall foul of elderly neighbour". East Kilbride News. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  55. ^ Grylls, George. "Baroness Mone accused of racism in row over yacht crash". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 10 December 2021.
  56. ^ a b Conn, David (2 December 2021). "Tory peer Michelle Mone accused of sending racist and abusive message". The Guardian.
  57. ^ "Met investigating Tory peer Michelle Mone over 'racist message'". The Guardian. 6 January 2022. Retrieved 6 January 2022.

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