From lively nights out in London to hospitality jaunts at Cheltenham – there was a time when Michelle Mone and Carol Vorderman seemed inseparable.
And their public comments were certainly affectionate, with Michelle calling the former Countdown host her ‘good friend’ whose ‘fun’ company helped her get over her divorce.
But the pair fell out ‘some time ago’, insiders say, before Carol, 62, began fiercely criticising the Tory peer over allegations relating to government PPE contracts during Covid.
Carol’s public attack on Michelle today on This Morning put a rocket under the feud, prompting a barrage of counterclaims from Michelle’s camp.
2010: Carol Vorderman (left) and Baroness Mone at the launch party of The Sun’s new magazine, The Buzz
The comments came after Carole reignited her feud with her former friend during a fiery interview on This Morning that ended with her turning to the camera and saying, ‘Sue me, Michelle’
Carol used her appearance to share details on the scandal currently engulfing Michelle, 51, who she barracked in a lengthy monologue before being interrupted by host Alison Hammond.
Addressing viewers, she said: ‘I cannot talk about useless PPE without also talking about Michelle Mone who was brought into the House of Lords, as a baroness, by David Cameron.
‘We know she has taken leave of absence without losing the Tory whip to start with because she was actively involved, as it goes, with a company called PPE Medpro.’
Carol acknowledged she’d once been friends with Michelle, before adding: ‘Now Michelle Mone, I knew, many years ago and then dropped her like a stone as soon as I realised what kind of person she was.’
She then turned to look at the camera directly and held both hands up as she said: ‘Sue me, Michelle.’
2010: Carol and Michelle at the Marion Rose Ball in aid of Children with Leukaemia at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London
2011: The pair hug after spending time together in central London
The intervention infuriated the peer’s camp, with a source close to her branding the broadcaster ‘publicity hungry’ and calling the comments ‘outrageous’.
‘I really don’t understand why Carol has started this attack,’ the source told MailOnline.
The ally also hit back at Carol’s claims on Twitter that Michelle’s husband, Doug Barrowman, paid for a super yacht and a private jet using money from government PPE contracts.
‘Baroness Mone’s husband has owned superyachts and a jet for many years. What are the reasons – a hunger for publicity, or maybe her coming to the end of her TV career?’
What is still unclear is who first ended the friendship, with both giving contesting narratives.
A source close to Michelle Mone today hit back at comments made by her former friend, Carol Vorderman (they are pictured together at Cheltenham in 2012)
Baroness Mone welcoming Vorderman to Twitter (top); and below – one of Vorderman’s comments about the PPE scandal
‘There was no bitter bust up or rows between them,’ a source told The Sun. ‘Carol just decided not to continue the friendship over ten years ago.’
One thing that is clear is the extent to which Michelle’s alleged conduct during Covid has helped to escalate the row.
Carol’s online attacks against Michelle have only intensified in recent weeks as she faces more scrutiny over her business dealings.
These have at times been vicious, with the broadcaster even claiming in one post that her former friend should be ‘slammed in jail where she belongs’.
Another tweet read: ‘Lady’ Mone broke Lords’ code & was seemingly involved in fraud while nurses & doctors slaved all hours to save people in the 1st lockdown.
‘I cannot talk about useless PPE without also talking about Michelle Mone who was brought into the House of Lords, as a baroness, by David Cameron,’ the former Countdown host said
‘She denied any involvement but her husband got £65m profit & she £29m. If so, slam them in jail where they belong.’
And in a second, she wrote: ‘After £221m PPE contracts, Michelle Mone threatened Hancock that if a 2nd company she was ‘helping’ to get a flow test contract for wasn’t allowed to ‘get in the game’ the awarding would seem ‘corrupt’ & she’d ‘blow this all wide open’ Where do we start??’
Michelle is now under investigation by the National Crime Agency as part of a fraud investigation into a Covid supplies company she recommended to ministers.
She is also being probed by the House of Lords over concerns that she may have failed to declare an interest in PPE Medpro and lobbying for it to win £203m in NHS contracts, and has lost the Tory whip after taking a break from Parliament in an attempt to clear her name.
The Government is also suing the firm for allegedly breaching the terms of one deal to supply 25million surgical gowns for medics.
MailOnline has contacted Michelle and Carol’s representatives for comment.
From leaving school in Glasgow with no qualifications to modelling and business deals: How ‘Baroness Bra’ made her millions
Lingerie tycoon Michelle Mone was born in 1971 and grew up in Glasgow’s East End, leaving school with no qualifications aged 15 before finding work as a model.
After running a sales and marketing team for the Labatt’s brewing firm, she decided to create a range of support bras after the idea came to her while wearing an uncomfortable bra during a dinner party.
Lady Mone founded MJM International with her then-husband Michael Mone in November 1996, and three years of research, design, and development resulted in the patented Ultimo bra.
Lingerie tycoon Michelle Mone (pictured centre) is under investigation by the House of Lords Commissioners for Standards for allegedly failing to declare an interest in PPE Medpro and lobbying for it to receive government contracts
The 51-year-old Conservative peer (pictured) – nicknamed Baroness Bra – has always insisted she neither had any involvement in PPE Medpro nor benefited financially from it
In August 1999, a month after having her third child, she launched Ultimo at the Selfridges department store in London, which sold the pre-launch estimate of six weeks of stock within 24 hours.
The business grew rapidly and in 2010 she earned an OBE from the Queen for her contribution to business.
But she sold 80 per cent of Ultimo in 2014, one year after announcing she had left the company following a breakdown in her marriage.
Lady Mone was nicknamed ‘Baroness Bra’ after being elevated to the House of Lords in 2015, where her official title is Baroness Mone of Mayfair.
To celebrate her 50th birthday, she decided to host five parties – one for each decade of her life – with her new husband billionaire tech tycoon Doug Barrowman, 55.
Baroness Mone founded the Ultimo brand, which earned her the nickname Baroness Bra