PM to consult ethics adviser after Braverman ‘asked civil servants for help with speeding fine’

Sunak will also speak to Simon Case about claims the home secretary broke the ministerial code by asking officials to organise a private speed-awareness course
Suella Braverman. Photo: Ian Davidson/Adobe Stock

By Tevye Markson

22 May 2023

Rishi Sunak has consulted his ethics adviser over claims Suella Braverman broke the ministerial code by asking civil servants to arrange a private speed-awareness course for her.

The prime minister has not yet asked his adviser to launch an investigation and will also hold discussions with the home secretary and cabinet secretary Simon Case about the allegations, according to reports.

After being caught speeding last year, Braverman had the choice between losing three points on her licence and paying a fine, or going on a course as part of a group.

Braverman allegedly asked civil servants to organise a one-on-one course but was told this was not a matter for the civil service, according to the Sunday Times. She then asked a special adviser to try to arrange a private course but the course provider said this was not possible.

She eventually decided to pay the fine and accept the points, a spokesperson for the home secretary said.

“I was speeding, I regret that, I paid the fine and I took the points," Braverman told broadcasters.

The home secretary said she is “confident that nothing untoward happened” but did not answer a question on whether she had asked civil servants to put her on a one-to-one speeding course.

The ministerial code states that ministers "must ensure that no conflict arises, or appears to arise, between their public duties and their private interests".

Former Department for Exiting the European Union permanent secretary Philip Rycroft said it appeared that Braverman had breached this part of the code.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s The Westminster Hour, he said: "This on the face of it I think is a breach of the ministerial code.

"Obviously, there’s still investigations to be done and so on but the code is very clear. Ministers must ensure that no conflict arises or appears to arise between their public duties and their private interests.

"Even asking a question of a civil servant as to how she might go on one of these courses puts them in an impossible position.”

FDA union chief Dave Penman agreed: “A speeding fine is an entirely personal matter, so if she’s asked civil servants to intervene in any way on that, that would be a breach of the ministerial code," he told Sky News.

The Labour Party have called on Sunak to launch an investigation into the potential breach of the ministerial code “without delay”. Sir Laurie Magnus, the PM's independent adviser on ministers’ interests, cannot begin an investigation until Sunak instructs him to, however.

Braverman previously resigned as home secretary after breaching the code by sharing secure documents via her personal email account.

She was also recently accused of breaching the code over an attack on "activist" civil servants.

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