Braverman will not face investigation over speeding row, Sunak decides

PM says Braverman did not break the ministerial code but recognises "perception of impropriety"
Sunak said Braverman did not breach the ministerial code. Photo: AP Photo/Kin Cheung

By Zoe Crowther

24 May 2023

Suella Braverman will keep her post as home secretary and there will be no formal investigation into her conversations with civil servants about a speeding fine, after the prime minister concluded she had not breached the ministerial code.

Downing Street confirmed that Rishi Sunak has decided that she will keep her position in the cabinet and that Sir Laurie Magnus, the PM's independent adviser on ministerial interests, will not launch an investigation into what happened.

Braverman was caught driving over the speed limit outside of London last year, and reportedly asked civil servants to arrange a private speed-awareness course in order to avoid getting points on her licence and having to attend a class in public. 

Her requests were reportedly refused, so she opted to pay a fine and take three points on her licence. 

In a letter to the home secretary on Wednesday, Sunak said he had consulted with his independent adviser and had concluded the incident was not a breach of the ministerial code. 

"He has advised that on this occasion further investigation is not necessary and I have accepted that advice," Sunak wrote.

"As you have recognised, a better course of action could have been taken to avoid giving rise to the perception of impropriety.

"Nevertheless, I am reassured you take these matters seriously. You have provided a thorough account, apologised and expressed regret."

The prime minister reiterated that he believes "integrity, professionalism and accountability" are core values of his government. 

Braverman had written to Sunak to explain what had taken place, promising that she had been "truthful and transparent" at all times. 

"My actions were always directed toward finding an appropriate way to participate in the speed awareness course, taking into account my new role as home secretary and the necessary security and privacy issues that this raised," she wrote.

"My interactions with officials intended to provide appropriate clarification of the options available to me in my role as home secretary."

She did, however, admit in the letter that "in hindsight, or if faced with a similar situation again, I would have chosen a different course of action".

Speaking in the Commons on 22 May, the home secretary said she "regretted" the speeding fine, but insisted she paid the fine and accepted the points deduction, and made no attempt to avoid doing so.

Asked about the allegations at the G7 Summit in Japan over the weekend, the PM claimed he had not yet spoken to Braverman, but added: “I understand she has expressed regret for speeding, accepted the penalty and paid the fine.”

A No.10 spokesperson had said that the prime minister had “full confidence” in Braverman as home secretary. 

Braverman is facing other allegations of ministerial code breaches regarding a failure to formally disclose having worked with members of the Rwandan government as the co-founder of a charity in the African country, an investigation by the Independent revealed.

She formed a charity which trained Rwandan government lawyers between 2010 and 2015, with several of these lawyers now involved in the deal with the UK government to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The home secretary has also faced criticism from some Conservative colleagues after attending and speaking at the National Conservatism Conference, where she said there was "no reason" why more Brits couldn't do seasonal jobs like fruit picking and said the UK was at risk of forgetting "how to do things for ourselves".

Some Conservative MPs accused her of not following the government line on migration and exposing in-fighting in the party.

Zoe Crowther is a journalist for CSW's sister title PoliticsHome, where this story first appeared

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