Suella Braverman repeatedly dodges questions over 'attempt to get civil servants to arrange private speeding course'

22 May 2023, 16:49 | Updated: 23 May 2023, 01:56

Suella Braverman has repeatedly evaded specific questions about her alleged attempt to have civil servants arrange a private speeding course
Suella Braverman has repeatedly evaded specific questions about her alleged attempt to have civil servants arrange a private speeding course. Picture: Alamy/ParliamentTV

By Will Taylor

Suella Braverman tried to evade questions about her alleged attempts to have civil servants arrange a private speeding course so she did not need to do it in public.

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The home secretary was asked repeatedly about her fine in the House of Commons on Monday.

She repeatedly said she regretted speeding, paid the fine and accepted getting points on her licence.

But shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said Ms Braverman's "responsibility is to ensure that laws are fairly enforced for all" and pushed her on the specifics of the claim that she "sought special treatment - a private course and asked civil servants to help".

"She refused to say what she asked civil servants to do, so I ask her that again - and to also tell us whether she authorised her special adviser to tell journalists that there wasn't a speeding penalty when there was," she asked.

Ms Braverman replied: "I regret that [speeding]. I paid the fine. I accepted the points. At no time did I seek to avoid the sanction. What is serious here is the priority of the British people."

Earlier, she insisted there was "nothing untoward" about her handling of a speeding offence as Rishi Sunak considered whether to launch a formal investigation.

The Home Secretary is under pressure after reports she asked officials to try to arrange a private speed awareness course for her rather than take penalty points on her driving licence.

In her first public comments on the row, Ms Braverman did not deny asking civil servants to intervene and said she "regrets" the fine.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on Monday, Sir Keir called for the Home Secretary's speeding claims to be investigated 'immediately'.

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Home Secretary 'regrets' speeding but confident 'nothing untoward happened'

Asked directly if she asked officials to arrange a one-to-one course for her, she said: "Last summer, I was speeding. I regret that. I paid the fine and I took the points but we're focused now on delivering for the British people and working for them."

Pressed on the same question, she said: "In relation to the process, I'm focused on delivering for the British people, doing my job as Home Secretary and what I will say is that, in my view, I'm confident that nothing untoward has happened."

Rishi Sunak has spoken to his ethics adviser Sir Laurie Magnus about Ms Braverman, Downing Street has said.

No formal inquiry has yet been launched into whether she breached the ministerial code, it is understood.

Read More: Rishi Sunak 'to consult independent ethics adviser' over Suella Braverman speeding claims

Read More: 'She was probably frightened': Caller defends Suella Braverman amid speeding scandal

A No 10 spokesman said Mr Sunak was "availing himself of information" about the situation after his return from the G7 summit overnight.

But Mr Sunak continued to have confidence in his Home Secretary, the spokesman said.

"He and the Home Secretary continue to work closely on the public's priorities, not least tackling illegal immigration," he added.

Suella Braverman attends Cabinet meeting on Monday
Suella Braverman attends Cabinet meeting on Monday. Picture: Alamy
Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak. Picture: Alamy

Allies of Mrs Braverman have claimed she is being targeted as part of a smear campaign against one of the leading voices on the Tory right.

Tory MP Miriam Cates told the Daily Mail: "Suella has done nothing wrong.

"Around 1.5 million people take speed awareness courses every year so it's hardly a news story. In smearing the Home Secretary like this, someone is clearly seeking to play the man not the ball.

"It's underhand and undermines democracy."

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