Michelle Mone: who is the Baroness and what has she been accused of saying in ‘racist’ WhatsApp messages

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The Baroness has been accused of sending the messages following a fatal yachting incident in 2019

Conservative peer Baroness Michelle Mone has been accused of sending racist and abusive WhatsApp messages in 2019.

It has been claimed that Mone sent the messages after a crew member was killed aboard her husband’s yacht in Monaco when it collided with another boat.

This is everything you need to know.

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Who is Michelle Mone?

Baroness Michelle Mone (née Allan), OBE, is a Scottish entrepreneur and parliamentarian.

She was born on 8 October 1971 and grew up in Glasgow’s East End. Mone left school at the age of 15 without any qualifications. According to her book, Michelle Mone: My Fight to the Top, she was bullied at school because she was “terrible” academically.

Mone met her future husband, Michael Mone, at 17 years old and converted to Catholicism for him. She became pregnant with their first child at 18.

The two married when Mone was 19, and she eventually landed a marketing position with the Labatt brewing company. She became the company’s head of marking in Scotland within two years however she was later made redundant at 24.

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Mone has since admitted to fabricating qualifications on her CV in order to get the job.

Michelle Mone attends the Pride of Britain awards in 2015 (Photo: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)Michelle Mone attends the Pride of Britain awards in 2015 (Photo: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
Michelle Mone attends the Pride of Britain awards in 2015 (Photo: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images) | Getty Images

She then went on to start up her own business with her redundancy money and founded Ultimo, a lingerie brand that focused on creating bras that were both comfortable and that looked good.

In 2001, Mone was invited by Prince Charles to join the board of directors for the Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust, and for her business endeavours, Mone was awarded an OBE by the Queen in 2010.

In 2015, she was appointed to the House of Lords by David Cameron. That same month, she was appointed by the Government to conduct an independent review on entrepreneurship.

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In 2011, it was announced that Mone and her husband, whom she had three children with, were divorcing.

Mone and businessman Douglas Barrowman got engaged in 2018 and the two married on 29 November 2020. Borrowman has four children from two prior marriages.

What has she been accused of?

In an exclusive report from the Guardian, Mone has allegedly been accused of sending a racist message to a man of Indian heritage who claimed in an official complaint that she had told him that he was a “waste of a man’s white skin”.

Mone allegedly sent the message via WhatsApp in June 2019, during a disagreement regarding a fatal yacht crash which happened off the coast of Monaco.

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Screenshots of the WhatsApp messages have reportedly been sent to the House of Lords commissioner for standards as part of a complaint claiming that Mone sent the racist and abusive texts.

Michelle Mone  sitting with members of the House of Lords (Photo: Justin Tallis - WPA Pool/Getty Images)Michelle Mone  sitting with members of the House of Lords (Photo: Justin Tallis - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Michelle Mone sitting with members of the House of Lords (Photo: Justin Tallis - WPA Pool/Getty Images) | Getty Images

In screenshots of the exchanges seen by the Guardian, Mone also reportedly makes derogatory comments about the mental health of the man’s partner, calling her a “mental loony” and “nut case bird”.

The commissioner was reportedly unable to investigate the incident as the messages were not sure during the course of Mone’s parliamentary duties.

A House of Lords spokesperson said: “Where a complaint does not relate to a member’s parliamentary duties, it is not covered by the code or the remit of the commissioner for standards.”

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What was the yacht crash?

In late May of 2019, Mone and her husband, Douglas Barrowman, had spent the day with friends and other guests on a yacht in Monaco.

As one of their friend’s yachts was departing back to shore, it crashed into Barrowman’s yacht and a crew member was killed.

Following the collision, Mone was reportedly involved in a WhatsApp disagreement with the man who made the complaint. He and his partner had been guests on one of the boats involved in the crash.

According to the official complaint, which was lodged on 13 June 2019, Mone had questioned, over WhatsApp, whether the man’s partner had actually been affected psychologically by the crash, with Mone stating that she had been partying “only a few days after”.

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The man had replied that his partner had been genuinely traumatised by the incident and added: “I would prefer you back the f**k off.”

The yacht incident took place in Monaco (Photo: VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images)The yacht incident took place in Monaco (Photo: VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images)
The yacht incident took place in Monaco (Photo: VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

According to the screenshots, Mone reportedly replied: “OMG what a pile of crap!!

“You are talking to me, a smart, bright individual who doesn’t get taken in by your s**t!

“In fact my bulls**t detector was on you from day 1. You & your mental loony of a girlfriend have been [partying] like mad!

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“You need to get a grip and have respect for a guy that was killed!!! Funny how your mad girlfriend has now deleted all the pictures, don’t worry I have screenshots of the dates and times. 48 hours after the guy was killed.

“[You’re] a low life, a waste of a [man’s] white skin so don’t give us your lies. [You’re] a total disgrace.”

Mone also allegedly added: “Now you deal with the police enquiries including your nut case bird.”

The man replied: “A waste of a white man’s skin? Did not know you were racist, Michelle.”

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The Tory peer reportedly responded by saying that the man was “blocked” and that he should “take your mental case to the police station”.

Has she responded to the claim?

A representative for the Tory peer initially told the Guardian: “Baroness Mone is 100% not racist.

“Baroness Mone and her husband have built over 15 schools in Africa in the past three years.”

Her lawyers also provided another statement in which they claimed Mone had “no access” to the messages in question and had no “detailed memory of them”.

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Michelle Mone at the annual BGC Global Charity Day at BGC Partners on September 11, 2014 in London (Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)Michelle Mone at the annual BGC Global Charity Day at BGC Partners on September 11, 2014 in London (Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)
Michelle Mone at the annual BGC Global Charity Day at BGC Partners on September 11, 2014 in London (Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images) | Getty Images

The statement said: “She is not prepared to comment on the messages unless and until their authenticity has been confirmed by Baroness Mone, in any event, very strongly denies that she is a racist, a sexist or that she has a lack of respect for those persons genuinely suffering with mental health difficulties.”

It also added that it was “as illogical as it is inconceivable that she could or would have made such a comment or made it with the slightest racist intent” due to the fact that, at the time, Mone supposedly had no knowledge that the man in question “was anything other than white British, as his appearance is 100% white, with a cut-glass English accent”.

Mone’s lawyers also questioned the authenticity of the screenshots of the messages, claiming that the texts allegedly sent from Mone were “written in a manic way, in keeping with someone with coherency issues, rather than from a well-educated and articulate Baroness”.

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