Michelle Mone’s husband linked to tax scheme that caused suicides

Baroness Mone and Doug Barrowman
Doug Barrowman, husband of Baroness Mone, is linked to AML Tax which sold tax-saving schemes in the 2010s - Sofi Adams

The husband of former Conservative peer Michelle Mone has been linked to promoters of tax avoidance schemes which left workers being chased by HM Revenue and Customs for crippling bills.

Doug Barrowman is connected to the firm AML Tax, which sold tax-saving schemes to self-employed workers in the 2010s.

HMRC, which has said the company is part of Mr Barrowman’s Isle of Man-based Knox Group, has previously referred to it as “Doug Barrowman’s tax avoidance firm”.

Mr Barrowman and his wife Baroness Mone have been at the centre of a PPE scandal. Another company of Mr Barrowman’s, PPE Medpro, is currently being investigated by the National Crime Agency after it awarded more than £200m worth of UK government contracts during the pandemic through a so-called VIP lane.

In November 2023 Baroness Mone admitted she lied about her involvement in the company, a supplier of medical goods.

Mr Barrowman said that he and his wife were being “hung out to dry” to distract from government failures in PPE procurement in a recent statement on the platform X, formerly Twitter.

Mr Barrowman and Baroness Mone have denied any wrongdoing.

AML Tax’s schemes worked by paying contractors via loans to avoid income tax and National Insurance. In 2017 the tax authority cracked down on these schemes, levying a “loan charge” against the contractors, demanding all disputed taxes be repaid.

HMRC has since pursued 60,000 contractors for tax liabilities worth sometimes hundreds of thousands, with some taking their own lives. 

There have so far been ten suicides in connection to the loan charge. MPs on Thursday said in Parliament that the loan charge was the “next Horizon scandal” and called on the Government to launch an independent review.

In a call for evidence in 2022, the Loan Charge & Taxpayer APPG, a cross-party group of MPs, found that AML was responsible for 189 of the 1,006 schemes reported to it.

AML Tax was fined £150,000 in March 2022 for failing to provide HMRC with information required as part of a tax investigation.

Mr Barrowman and Knox Group did not respond to The Telegraph’s request for comment. However lawyers for Knox Group told the BBC it denied “any and all allegations of dishonesty, misconduct and wrongdoing”.

Knox Group said it had “properly notified” HMRC of the schemes and that the tax office had “never even suggested, let alone alleged, that there has been any form of dishonesty or wrongdoing by the Knox Group”.

It added that it “deeply and sincerely” regretted the distress caused by the loan charge, attributing this to “retrospective” taxation by the Government.

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