Suella Braverman has insisted “nothing untoward happened” as she faces questions over whether she asked civil servants to help her dodge a group speeding awareness course.
The comments are the first made by the home secretary since The Sunday Times reported that she asked civil servants to arrange a private one-to-one speed awareness course for her after she was caught speeding last summer.
Rishi Sunak has faced pressure to discipline Ms Braverman after opposition parties accused her of breaching the ministerial code.
Ms Braverman was today asked by reporters whether she asked civil servants to arrange a private awareness course after she was caught for speeding – something she did not directly deny.
“First and foremost, I’m focused on the priorities for the British people as home secretary – that’s cutting serious crime with more police officers, that’s standing up for victims of child sexual abuse,” she said. “It’s about stopping the boats.
“And I’m not going to take a backward step from working on those issues.”
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She added: “In relation to your question, 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.”
Asked whether she would welcome an investigation into her behaviour, the home secretary replied by saying she would “appreciate the focus on an announcement which is standing up for victims and survivors”.
“In relation to the speeding tickets in my fine and points, I’m very confident nothing untoward happened.”
Responding to the mounting pressure, Downing Street said Mr Sunak had now spoken to his ethics adviser, Sir Laurie Magnus, about the row engulfing the home secretary.
Asked whether Mr Sunak had “full confidence” in Ms Braverman, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “Yes, they continue to work closely on public priorities.”
And pressed on whether the prime minister felt that ministers should set a good example by following the law, the spokesman replied: “Everyone should follow the law always, however he [the prime minister] is still updating himself on information.”
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The claims against Ms Braverman broke in the The Sunday Times over the weekend while the prime minister was at the G7 summit in Japan.
The newspaper reported that instead of signing up for an in-person course with other motorists, or completing one online that would show her name and face to other participants, Ms Braverman allegedly asked civil servants to arrange a private one-to-one course.
When the civil servants refused, she reportedly sought help from a political aide, who requested the course organiser provide a private session, or allowed her to use an alias or turn her camera off.
When the provider refused, Ms Braverman opted to take the three points on her licence, the paper reported.
A spokesman for the home secretary said Ms Braverman “accepts that she was speeding last summer and regrets doing so”.
“She took the three points and paid the fine last year,” they added.