Rishi Sunak refuses to back Suella Braverman after speeding course row

Rishi Sunak has said he hasn't spoken to the Home Secretary about her speeding fine - but understands that she's "expressed regret" for the offence and accepted the penalty.

The Prime Minister is facing calls to launch an investigation into reports Suella Braverman asked civil servants to help her avoid a group speeding awareness course to dodge a fine.

When asked about the row at the end of G7 meeting in Japan, a seemingly frustrated Mr Sunak asked the reporter whether he had any questions about the summit before answering.

"I don't know the full details of what has happened nor have I spoken to the Home Secretary," he said.

"I think you can see first-hand what I have been doing over the last day or so but I understand that she's expressed regret for speeding, accepted the penalty and paid the fine."

He did not say whether he would launch an investigation into the Cabinet minister.

Asked by Sky News political editor Beth Rigby if Ms Braverman had become a liability, the PM referred back to his previous comments.

However, a No 10 spokeswoman later insisted he does "of course" have full confidence in her.

Mr Sunak is flying back to London after the summit, and is expected to talk to Ms Braverman upon his return.

'I don't know the details'

During the Sky News' Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme, Environment Secretary Therese Coffey said it was "perfectly normal" if people are given points for speeding.

Ms Coffey added that she is unaware of all the details "referred to in the newspaper."

She continued: "It is perfectly normal nowadays if people are found speeding to be offered points or to go on a course of some kind.

"As I say, I don't know the details that are referred to in the newspaper but I think, as far as I'm aware, the Home Secretary has decided to take the points, pay the penalty and to keep focused on her main job of security, but also tackling illegal migration."

Ms Coffey, pressed on why she had not contacted her colleague about the reports in order to find out more details, said: "Because it is the case that there is some speculation in the newspaper, I'm not going to get into individual details."

What have people said about it?

Labour's shadow health minister, Liz Kendall, reiterated calls for Mr Sunak to launch an investigation into whether Ms Braverman breached the standards of the ministerial code.

Ms Kendall told Sophy Ridge: "He should ask the independent adviser whether she has breached the standards of the ministerial code here.

"I think a lot of people watching this programme will think, you know, why is it always one rule for them and another rule for everybody else?"

Previously, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper described it as "shocking" that Ms Braverman had reportedly tried to bend the normal process for speeding drivers.

"As home secretary, Suella Braverman is responsible for upholding the law, yet this report suggests she has tried to abuse her position to get round the normal penalties," said Ms Cooper.

"We've had 13 years of the Tories trying to dodge the rules for themselves and their mates. Enough is enough."

It is up to Mr Sunak to order an ethics investigation, as he did over Nadhim Zawahi's tax affairs.L

Read more from Sky News:
Analysis: Suella Braverman's bad week could be followed by a very tough one indeed
Follow our Politics Hub to stay up to date with the latest

What was said in the newspaper?

The Sunday Times reported that Ms Braverman, 43, had been caught speeding last summer and opted to attend a driving awareness course rather than accept a fine and points on her licence.

A spokesman for the home secretary said she "accepts that she was speeding last summer and regrets doing so".

"She took the three points and paid the fine last year," they added.

But The Sunday Times 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 sought help from a political aide, who requested the private course organiser provided 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.

The paper's sources close to the home secretary dispute that she breached the ministerial code and say the case was settled by her taking the points.

Ms Cooper said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak should explain how much he knew when he reappointed Ms Braverman as home secretary.

Ms Braverman had resigned in the last days of Liz Truss's tenure as PM after sending an official document from her personal email to another MP.

Mr Sunak had promised "integrity, professionalism and accountability" when he became prime minister last October, in an apparent attempt to contrast himself with his predecessor Boris Johnson, who resigned after a series of scandals.

Since becoming prime minister, he has lost two ministers and close allies, deputy prime minister Dominic Raab and minister without portfolio Gavin Williamson, following bullying allegations.

He was also forced to sack Nadhim Zahawi, the Tory chairman, following an investigation into his tax affairs.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP also called for Ms Braverman to be "urgently investigated", saying her name should be added to the "nearly endless list of Ministers who have had to undergo the same".