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Government says ministers 'not above rules' after Braverman 'tried to avoid speeding course'

Watch: Rishi Sunak declines to back Suella Braverman over speeding points allegations

The government has said cabinet ministers are not "above the rules" - amid reports the home secretary Suella Braverman tried to avoid attending a public speed awareness course with other motorists.

But environment secretary Therese Coffey refused to discuss her colleague's alleged conduct in any more detail.

The Sunday Times reported that Braverman – who is known for her uncompromising stances on law enforcement – asked Home Office aides to help organise a private course as part of an attempt to avoid a fine and points on her licence. Officials refused the request so Braverman allegedly turned to a political aide.

The newspaper said a number of requests were made to a speeding awareness course provider by the aide, including asking if she could do an online course while using an alias or having her camera switched off.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 16, 2023: Secretary of State for the Home Department Suella Braverman leaves 10 Downing Street after attending the weekly Cabinet meeting in London, United Kingdom on May 16, 2023. (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
Suella Braverman pictured in Downing Street earlier this week. (Getty Images)

Braverman, who was caught speeding last summer, ultimately chose to accept three points on her driving licence. But after the reports surfaced on Saturday, Rishi Sunak is facing calls to launch an investigation into the home secretary’s conduct.

Coffey, speaking for the government on the Sunday political shows, insisted on the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg: "I don't think government ministers do think they are above the rules."

But Coffey then said "pretty much everybody has the option to pay a fine, take points or go on a course", without mentioning the majority of people don't seek private one-on-one courses.

On Sunday, Sunak declined to publicly back Braverman following the allegations.

Read more: Suella Braverman's popularity falls after her address to right-wing conference (from Tuesday)

Sunak, no stranger to car-related fines himself, did not express support when asked three times at a press conference in Hiroshima, where he attended talks with G7 leaders and Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky.

"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."

Labour is now calling for Sunak to formally investigate Braverman.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 15: UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman arrives to attend a Coronation garden party for Conservative MPs hosted by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at 10 Downing Street on May 15, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Braverman arrives at a garden party for Conservative MPs hosted by Rishi Sunak at 10 Downing Street earlier this week. (Getty Images)

Shadow health minister Liz Kendall told Sky News's Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: '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: 'Why is it always one rule for them and another rule for everybody else?'"

Senior Tory MP Sir Jake Berry also weighed in, with the former party chair telling Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg: "People get speeding fines, right? The Archbishop of Canterbury, Andy Burnham, Robert Jenrick, Tom Tugendhat... these public figures.

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"You shouldn't do it in the first place but if you do get caught, you just take the medicine."

A spokesman for the home secretary said: "Mrs Braverman accepts that she was speeding last summer and regrets doing so. She took the three points and paid the fine last year."

A motorist can be banned from driving if they have 12 or more penalty points on their licence.