The billionaire husband of ‘Baroness Bra’ Michelle Mone is preparing to take delivery of a £50 million mega-yacht, sources on the French Riviera say.
Scottish businessman Doug Barrowman – at the centre of a PPE procurement scandal with his wife – sold a 187ft (57m) yacht, Turquoise, in October last year for a reported £17.5 million. A smaller yacht, the Lady M, is now up for sale for £6.8 million.
The 58-year-old is a noted yacht enthusiast and said in a previous televised interview that he felt he had ‘one more boat’ in him, at a budget of £50 million.
Lady Mone added in a separate interview that the two of them hoped to retire and sail the world in 2025.
Sources in Monaco say Mr Barrowman has long planned to purchase and design his own ‘ultimate’ dream vessel and say that ‘Vento’ – currently being fitted out in Turkey – is his new craft.
The 285ft (87m) yacht boasts a hull finished in Tour de France blue, a swimming pool, a helipad that doubles as a basketball court, an outdoor cinema, bar and spiral staircase, plus a beauty salon and beach club.
Yacht broker Glynn Smith, of Ethereal Yachts – who did the deal for Vento – did not deny that the client was Mr Barrowman but said that he was bound by ‘strict confidentiality’ and added that the client ‘wished to remain anonymous’.
The timing of the purchase could be embarrassing, as the National Crime Agency is investigating allegations of fraud and bribery surrounding the firm PPE Medpro.
PPE Medpro, a consortium that Mr Barrowman led, was awarded more than £200 million by the Government to supply medical equipment.
It is currently being sued by the Government for £122 million for ‘breach of contract and unjust enrichment’ over claims that its surgical gowns were unfit for use.
The company denies the allegations and Mr Barrowman says that he is confident that he will win his civil case.
Lady Mone, who founded the lingerie label Ultimo, lobbied Ministers Michael Gove and Lord Agnew for the PPE contracts but initially denied she had connections to the firm. She now admits that was a lie.
Mr Barrowman made more than £60 million profit on the deal, much of which was transferred to an offshore trust of which Lady Mone and her children are beneficiaries.
The National Crime Agency has frozen her bank accounts during the investigation. A string of assets owned by Lady Mone, 52, and Mr Barrowman have been put up for sale, including a home on St Barts, the Lady M yacht and a Cessna private jet.
The couple’s London home and Algarve villa have reportedly been sold. They live on the Isle of Man, which is a tax haven.
In a statement published on Lady Mone’s account on X/Twitter, Mr Barrowman sought to highlight failures from the Department of Health and Social Care.
‘Michelle and I are being hung out to dry to distract attention from Government incompetence in how it handled PPE procurement,’ he said. ‘I understand why the British public feel angry but their anger should not be directed at Michelle or I.’
He added that Medpro’s profit was in line with that made by other PPE providers.
In a Channel 4 documentary, Million Pound Mega Yachts, broadcast in 2015, Mr Barrowman said he had spent around £3 million refitting the yacht Turquoise with London-based H2 Designs.
He added: ‘You have to spend it on something. There’s a limit to the amount of houses you can have and private air travel.’
He added that he and H2 boss Mr Horsfield had spent ‘hours’ talking about the design of the boat and said: ‘I think we’ve got another boat in us really.’
In an interview with the Daily Record in 2020, Lady Mone said: ‘Doug and I dream of getting a yacht and going around the world… At the moment. we’ve got too much on our plate but in five years’ time, I see us doing that.’