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Defiant Suella Braverman insists there was ‘nothing untoward’ over her handling of speeding offence
22 May 2023, 12:47 | Updated: 22 May 2023, 15:54
Suella Braverman 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.
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."
Questioned by MPs on Monday afternoon, Ms Braverman reiterated that she had been caught speeding, paid the fine and took the points - but now wanted to focus on the government's policy priorities.
"I paid the fine and I took the penalty and at no point did I attempt to evade sanction," she said.
Labour's shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper asked Ms Braverman in the House of Commons whether "she authorised her special adviser to tell journalists that there wasn't a speeding penalty when there was".
Ms Braverman replied: "At the heart of the Home Secretary's responsibility is to ensure that laws are fairly enforced for all. But when she got a speeding penalty, it seems 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?"
The Home Secretary replied: "As I have said earlier, in the summer of last year, I was speeding. I regret that. I paid the fine and I accepted the points. At no time, did I seek to avoid the sanction."
She added that she is "getting on with the job of delivering for the British people".
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.
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.
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."