Suella Braverman dodges questions on speeding fine and 'seeking special treatment'

Home secretary Suella Braverman faced tough questions in Parliament amid claims she broke ministerial code, ITV News Deputy Political Editor Anushka Asthana reports

Suella Braverman swerved repeated questions from MPs in the Commons this afternoon on her handling of a speeding ticket fine.

The home secretary earlier insisted "nothing untoward happened" following claims she asked civil servants, and then a personal aide, to help her to arrange a private speed awareness course to avoid points on her licence.

She has also been accused of authorising her special adviser to tell journalists that there was no speeding penalty, when there was.

Earlier opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer insisted that a formal investigation into whether Ms Braverman broke ministerial code should be launched, but no decision has been made yet.

Going on the offensive in the House of Commons, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “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.

It is understood no formal inquiry has yet been launched into whether Ms Braverman breached the ministerial code. Credit: PA

“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.”

Ms Braverman responded: "As I 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."

The home secretary was met with groans from the chamber as she went on to talk about how she was "delivering for the British people" with her plan to "stop the boats" and "stand up" for policing.

“Well, the trouble is she’s failing to deliver for the British people too, and everyone can see that she isn’t answering the basic factual questions on what she said to the civil service and to her special adviser," Ms Cooper responded.

“It matters because it is her job to show she is abiding by the ministerial code that she’s broken before on private and public interests and to enforce rules fairly for everyone else.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been urged to order an investigation into the claims. Credit: PA

"But time and again she tries to think that she’s above the normal rules - breaching security even though she’s responsible for it, trying to avoid penalties even though she sets them, reappointed even after breaking the ministerial code and criticising Home Office policies even though she’s in charge of them, and is failing on knife crime, on channel crossings, on immigration and more.

“The prime minister is clearly too weak to sort this out, well if the Home Secretary cannot get a grip on her own rule-breaking behaviour, how can she get a grip on anything else?”

In October last year Ms Braverman was forced to resign as home secretary under Liz Truss's government after sending an official document from her personal email account six times, in a breach of ministerial code.

However, she was given her job back six days later when Rishi Sunak took over as prime minister, which MPs at the time said set a "dangerous precedent".

During a bruising session in the Commons, Ms Braverman faced multiple calls to give straight answers and prompted sighs from MPs as she repeated her same response.

Shadow railways minister Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi said: “The more the home secretary tries to evade the question, the more the British public will conclude that something underhanded and fishy is going on.

“So can she answer a simple question. Did the Home Secretary ask civil servants to arrange a private speed awareness course.”

Cries of "Yes or no," could be heard from the benches, but Ms Braverman's reply was much the same.

"At no point did anything untoward happen and at no point did I try and avoid the sanction,” she said.

SNP spokesperson on home affairs Alison Thewliss mentioned that speeding can "affect a person's eligibility for leave to remain in the UK".

She asked if it is right for the home secretary to stay in her job for committing the same offence and "further breaches of the ministerial code by attempting to get special treatment".

The SNP's spokesperson for disabilities, Marion Fellows, added: “In her previous resignation letter, the current home secretary wrote, pretending we haven’t made mistakes, carrying on as if everyone can’t see that we’ve made them and hoping things will magically come right is not serious politics.

"Was she right? And has she made a mistake? Will she accept responsibility? Will she resign.”

Today Downing Street declined to endorse Suella Braverman’s assertions that “at no point did I attempt to evade sanction” and “nothing untoward” had happened.

A spokesman said: “I’m simply speaking on behalf of the Prime Minister in saying that he wants to avail himself of all the information before he makes a decision. “Again, I’m not going to pre-empt that and set out his view before he’s done that.”

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The spokesman added: “He has spoken to the Home Secretary about this, but I’m not going to get into the detail of that conversation.” Following his trip to the G7 summit in Hiroshima, the prime minister took the opportunity of today's session in the Commons to emphasise the UK's unwavering support for Ukraine and to deny assertions that Britain was "is somehow in retreat on the world stage".

However, Mr Sunak inevitably faced questions on his handling of Ms Braverman's speeding saga. He told MPs it was "not a topic of conversation" at the summit in Japan.

The PM added: “I have always been clear that where issues like this are raised, they should be dealt with properly and they should be dealt with professionally. “Since I have returned from the G7, I have been receiving information on the issues raised, I have met with both the independent adviser and the Home Secretary.

"I have asked for further information and I will update on the appropriate course of action in due course.”