London: UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman on Monday denied any impropriety over the handling of a speeding ticket that has again put her at the centre of ministerial rule-breaking allegations.
Her boss, Rishi Sunak, promised to restore integrity to government when he became prime minister last year, after the turbulent premierships of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.
But Braverman — a Brexit hardliner criticised for her rhetoric on immigration — has found herself facing calls for an ethics inquiry, after allegedly asking officials to set up a one-to-one driving awareness course instead of taking penalty points.
That has led to opposition claims that she may have breached the ministerial code of conduct by requesting non-political civil servants to help deal with a private matter.
Braverman, who resigned under Truss for using her personal email to send an official document to a colleague, downplayed the row, just hours before she was due to face lawmakers in parliament.
“Last summer, I was speeding. I regret that. I paid the fine and I took the points,” she told reporters.
“In relation to the process… what I will say is that, in my view, I’m confident that nothing untoward has happened.”
Sunak was asked about the Sunday newspaper reports while at the G7 leaders’ summit in Japan and said he did not know the “full details” of the case.
Downing Street later said that “of course” he had full confidence in Braverman.
But the Mirror newspaper said on Monday that one of its reporters had asked her special media adviser six weeks ago about the speeding offence and was told it was “nonsense”.
Sunak’s spokesman told reporters that integrity and professionalism were “core values” in government and the prime minister was “in regular conversation” with Braverman.
He declined to say when the pair last spoke and confirmed that he had already had a conservation with his ethics adviser, as calls mounted for a formal probe.
“The prime minister is availing himself of all the information” after returning from the G7 in the early hours, he said, adding: “The prime minister believes in proper processes.”
The general secretary of the FDA union which represents senior officials, Dave Penman, said: “Civil servants are publicly funded… They’re not there to support the personal interests of a minister.
“They don’t do their shopping, they don’t look after their children and they don’t sort out their speeding fine.”