Braverman sent official documents to her personal email six times

Home secretary admits breaches in letter to MPs
Photo: PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo

By Alain Tolhurst

31 Oct 2022

Home secretary Suella Braverman has admitted that she sent official government documents to her personal email account six times.

In a letter to the Home Affairs Select Committee, the senior cabinet minister explained she had done so between 6 September 6 and 19 October, on occasions when she was conducting meetings virtually or "related to public lines to take in interviews”.

"None of the documents in question concerned national security, intelligence agency or cyber security matters, and did not pose any risk to national security," she said.

"None of the documents were classified as secret or top secret.”

Braverman said she had apologised to prime minister Rishi Sunak when she was reappointed as home secretary after he entered No.10 and publicly repeated that apology.

"I also gave the prime minister assurances that I would not use my personal email for official business and reaffirmed my understanding of and adherence to the ministerial code," she added.

The prime minister’s official spokesperson said that Sunak continued to have full confidence in his home secretary.

Braverman said the Home Office review "confirmed that I had never used my government email to send any information to external recipients outside of government".

But it was the initial revelation that she had sent a document accidentally to a staffer in parliament that saw her have to leave the Home Office, only to be brought back into government six days later by Sunak.

In her letter, she said other than on 19 October, the event which triggered her resignation, "I have not used my personal email account to send official Home Office documents to other people outside of government".

Braverman, who is due to make a statement on the matter in the Commons this afternoon, also insisted there was nothing market sensitive in the draft written ministerial statement (WMS) that she sent from her private email address to Tory backbencher Sir John Hayes, which led to her resignation.

She said the former prime minister, Liz Truss, had "specifically" asked her to engage with parliamentary colleagues to discuss its content, which was reportedly about a planned new “growth visa”.

The home secretary argued in her letter that much of the document had already been briefed to MPs, but acknowledged that "some sentences" had not been fully agreed by all departments.

"I want the Home Affairs Select Committee to be reassured on the very important point about the nature of the document that I shared by mistake,” Braverman wrote.

"The draft WMS did not contain any information relating to national security, the intelligence agencies, cyber security or law enforcement.

"It did not contain details of any particular case work. It did not contain any market-sensitive data as all the data contained in the document was already in the public domain. It was not classified as SECRET or TOP SECRET."

But the committee's chair, Labour MP Dame Diana Johnson, told TimesRadio that Braverman must explain her position to parliament.

"She's got to deal with this because until this is dealt with, she can't get on and do the job of home secretary,” Johnson added.

Responding to Braverman’s letter, Liberal Democrat chief whip Wendy Chamberlain said: "This was not a one-off error, the home secretary has admitted breaking the rules on an industrial scale.

“Deliberately sending a sensitive government document to a friend without clearance is completely beyond the pale.

“If the home secretary wants to maintain even a shred of her dignity and credibility, she must resign now and apologise for her violations of the public’s trust.”

Alain Tolhurst is chief reporter for CSW's sister title PoliticsHome, where this story first appeared

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