Sunak refuses to probe minister over speeding row

Published May 25, 2023
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman attend the Prime Minister’s Questions, at the House of Commons in London on May 24. — Reuters
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman attend the Prime Minister’s Questions, at the House of Commons in London on May 24. — Reuters

LONDON: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Wednesday he would not investigate interior minister Suella Braverman over her handling of a speeding offence last year, ruling that her actions did not breach the ministerial code.

The move spares Braver­man, a minister who has become a favourite among right-wing lawmakers for her views on immigration but whose suitability to the job is questioned by others.

Sunak’s decision came after he took four days to consider a Sunday Times report that Braverman had asked officials to help arrange a private driving-awareness course to stop her speeding violation from becoming known.

Braverman said she should have handled the incident differently but she had not been seeking to avoid sanction, and Sunak on Wednesday said he had discussed the matter with his independent ethics adviser and would not take further action.

“My decision is that these matters do not amount to a breach of the Ministerial Code,” Sunak said in a letter to Braverman, referring to the rules governing ministerial behaviour.

“As you have recognised, a better course of action could have been taken to avoid giving rise to the perception of impropriety.” Opposition parties had called on the prime minister to investigate whether Braverman breached the ministerial code over her handling of the incident.

Ministers are barred from using government officials to help with their personal affairs.

Labour leader Keir Starmer’s spokesperson said Sunak’s conversations with the ethics adviser, combined with the lack of a full investigation, created a “hybrid situation” which “satisfies nobody in terms of the necessary transparency”.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2023

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