British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Wednesday he had decided not to investigate interior minister Suella Braverman over her handling of a speeding offence last year, ruling that her actions did not breach the ministerial code.
Sunak’s decision came after he took four days to consider his response to a Sunday Times report that Braverman had asked officials to help arrange a private driving-awareness course to stop her speeding violation from becoming public knowledge.
“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.
Braverman said in a letter to Sunak she had asked officials whether doing a speeding course was appropriate given that her new role as interior minister meant she was a protected person, and that she had a “lack of familiarity with protocol”.
She said her discussions were in order to maintain her privacy and security, and that she had stopped discussing them with officials after receiving advice that it was not an appropriate matter for civil servants to look into.
She eventually decided to take a driving penalty after assessing that a speeding course was not compatible with her security, privacy and political concerns. She apologised for the distraction she had caused.
“In hindsight, or if faced with a similar situation again, I would have chosen a different course of action. I sought to explore whether bespoke arrangements were possible, given my personal circumstances as a security-protected minister,” she wrote to Sunak.
“I recognise how some people have construed this as me seeking to avoid sanction – at no point was that the intention or outcome.”
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