Suella Braverman will not face an investigation for asking officials whether she could have a private speed awareness course – but Rishi Sunak criticised her handling of the situation.
The Prime Minister, who consulted his ethics adviser over the case, did not order a formal investigation and said his decision is “these matters do not amount to a breach of the ministerial code”.
But in a letter to Braverman he said: “As you have recognised, a better course of action could have been taken to avoid giving rise to the perception of impropriety.”
Braverman has been accused of breaching the code by asking taxpayer-funded civil servants to help with a private matter.
It was claimed she asked civil servants to arrange a one-on-one speeding awareness course, rather than joining fellow motorists on the programme which allows people with minor offences to avoid incurring points on their licence.
She later accepted a fine and penalty points on her driving licence for the speeding offence.
The home secretary has insisted she did “nothing untoward”.
In her letter to Sunak, she said: “I sought to explore whether bespoke arrangements were possible, given my personal circumstances as a security-protected minister.
“I recognise how some people have construed this as me seeking to avoid sanction – at no point was that the intention or outcome.
“Nonetheless, given the fundamental importance of integrity in public life, I deeply regret that my actions may have given rise to that perception, and I apologise for the distraction this has caused.”
She also said: “I also understand that, despite being aware of events at the time, at no point did the permanent secretary or cabinet office suggest that my actions resulted in a conflict of interest or merited any investigation.”
The Prime Minister’s decision not to order a formal investigation into Suella Braverman’s handling of a speeding ticket amounts to a “cowardly cop-out,” the Liberal Democrats said.
The party’s chief whip Wendy Chamberlain said: “This is a cowardly cop-out from Rishi Sunak. With every scandal, we see the Prime Minister dither, delay and flip-flop, never taking decisive action. This is not the leadership the country needs during such a severe cost of living crisis. Sunak is too weak to even order an investigation, let alone sack his home secretary.
“Sunak had the chance to do the right thing but instead he’s once again chosen to be ruled by his own hardline backbenchers. He may be in office but he is barely in power.”
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