Sunak defends Braverman after home secretary ‘asked civil servants for speeding fine help’
Rishi Sunak has defended Suella Braverman, after the UK home secretary asked civil servants to help with a speeding fine, saying she has “expressed regret, accepted the penalty and paid the fine”.
The prime minister ignored questions about whether he should order an ethics inquiry into Braverman’s conduct but stopped short of saying he had full confidence in her.
Sunak was pressed about Braverman in a press conference at the G7 summit in Japan after she reportedly asked Home Office officials to organise a one-to-one driving awareness course after she was caught speeding last summer.
Asked whether he had confidence in her and whether he would order an ethics inquiry, the prime minister said he had not spoken to the home secretary after the revelations and claimed he did not know the details.
However, he added: “I understand she has expressed regret for speeding, accepted the penalty and paid the fine.”
A No 10 spokesperson later said he “of course” had full confidence in Braverman.
Sunak appeared irritated to be asked by the BBC about the case during the event in Hiroshima, querying whether the broadcaster had any questions about the summit instead. The home secretary is facing calls for an inquiry into reports she asked Home Office civil servants to help secure her special treatment after being caught speeding.
He then avoided two more questions about Braverman from other broadcasters asking about the ethics of the home secretary’s actions, referring them back to his previous statement.
The allegations, first reported by the Mail on Sunday and Sunday Times, suggest that Braverman asked officials to help with a bespoke arrangement to deal with her speeding fine.
The request would have meant she would not have had to attend an in-person course with other motorists, or an online course where her name could be seen by other drivers.
Civil servants refused the request but were so concerned they reported the matter to the Cabinet Office. Braverman instead turned to a political aide to try to arrange the course without revealing her identity.
Completing the course would have meant the home secretary avoided points on her licence. The requests were refused, and Braverman later chose to avoid the course completely by paying the fine and accepting three penalty points on her driving licence.
Labour and the Liberal Democrats called for an inquiry into events by the prime minister’s adviser on ministerial interests, Sir Laurie Magnus.
The rules mean Sunak would have to commission his ethics tsar to look into the allegations, which Labour has suggested could breach the ministerial code.
The home secretary was issued a speeding notice by police outside London when she was the attorney general in the summer of 2022.
The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, said: “As home secretary, Suella Braverman is responsible for upholding the law, yet this report suggests she has tried to abuse her position to get round the normal penalties so it is one rule for her and another for everyone else. We’ve had 13 years of the Tories trying to dodge the rules for themselves and their mates.
“Enough is enough. The home secretary and prime minister need to urgently explain what has been going on, including what the prime minister knew when he reappointed her.
“The prime minister has promised integrity, professionalism and accountability, yet it appears his home secretary is blatantly flouting all three. We need an urgent investigation into what has gone on here, starting with Laurie Magnus seeing how this is possibly compatible with the ministerial code.”
Alistair Carmichael, the Lib Dems’ home affairs spokesperson, said: “Suella Braverman should be urgently investigated by the ethics adviser and add her name to the near endless list of ministers who have had to undergo the same.”
A Cabinet Office spokesperson, asked to confirm the report declined to comment. The Home Office was contacted for comment.