Braverman reveals fresh details about breach of ministerial code
Suella Braverman said she was “sorry for the errors of judgment” made in the use of her personal email to send a draft government statement to an ally as she faced further questions over her conduct.
The Home Secretary set out details of the email blunder which led to her resignation under Liz Truss, revealing that although the message was sent at 7.25am it was hours later before she confessed to officials what had happened.
Rishi Sunak is under pressure over his decision to reappoint Ms Braverman as Home Secretary just days after she had been forced to quit for breaching the ministerial code.
In a letter to the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee’s chairwoman Dame Diana Johnson, Ms Braverman revealed a Home Office review had found she forwarded official documents to her personal email on six occasions, although Ms Braverman insisted she had not sent them on to anyone outside the Government.
Ms Braverman resigned from the Truss government on October 19 after sending a draft written ministerial statement (WMS) on immigration policy to Tory backbencher Sir John Hayes and – inadvertently – a staff member of Conservative MP Andrew Percy.
In her account of the day:
– At 07.25am she used her personal email account on her personal phone to send the draft WMS to Sir John and intended to copy in his secretary’s parliamentary email address, but instead sent it to a member of Mr Percy’s staff.
– At some point “before or around” 10am she checked her personal email and found a reply saying the WMS had been “sent to me in error” by someone with a “parliamentary email address with a similar name to Sir John’s secretary”.
– Ms Braverman said at this point she realised she had made a mistake and “decided that I would inform my officials as soon as practicable”. She asked the recipient of the draft WMS to “delete the message and ignore”.
– But it was not until around noon, during Prime Minister’s Questions, that she began telling officials, having gone to a Home Office board meeting and an appointment with two constituents in the meantime.
– The Home Secretary said she had received an email from Mr Percy, warning that he was considering raising a point of order in the Commons and telling her “you are nominally in charge of the security of this nation, we have received many warnings even as lowly backbenchers about cyber security”.
– At 12.56 and 12.57 Ms Braverman forward all relevant emails to her private secretary, then met Cabinet Secretary Simon Case at around 2pm.
– At 2.45pm she met Ms Truss and shortly afterwards resigned.
Ms Braverman insisted there was nothing market sensitive in the WMS, although it had been intended to help the Office for Budget Responsibility draw up their economic forecasts.
The draft WMS consisted of “high-level proposals for liberalising our migration rules”, including “increasing the number of low-skilled foreign workers, as well as general plans for controlling illegal migration”.
Much of the document had already been briefed to MPs, including Sir John, “at the request” of Ms Truss, although Ms Braverman acknowledged that “some sentences” had not been fully agreed by all departments.
Ms Braverman said: “The draft WMS did not contain any information relating to national security, the intelligence agencies, cyber security or law enforcement.
“It did not contain details of any particular case work. It did not contain any market-sensitive data as all the data contained in the document was already in the public domain. It was not classified as SECRET or TOP SECRET.”
She said the Home Office review of her email use found six other occasions where she had sent government documents to her personal address between September 6, when she was appointed, and October 19.
She said that was on occasions when she was conducting meetings virtually or “related to public lines to take in interviews” when she would need to use her personal phone.
“None of the documents in question concerned national security, intelligence agency or cyber security matters, and did not pose any risk to national security,” she said.
Other than on October 19, “I have not used my personal email account to send official Home Office documents to other people outside of government”.
She said she had apologised to Mr Sunak when she was reappointed as Home Secretary.
“In my appointment discussion with the new Prime Minister, I raised this mistake and apologised to him, and would like to do so again here,” she said.
She said she had been “transparent about my mistakes” adding: “I am sorry for the errors of judgment set out above and I reiterated my apology to Mr Percy MP yesterday.”
“I hold myself as Home Secretary to the highest possible standards and I am glad to be able to serve again. I am grateful to the Prime Minister for his ongoing confidence following my reappointment.”
Ms Braverman is due to face MPs on Monday afternoon to discuss the chaos at the Manston migrant processing facility but opponents are also likely to seize on her personal conduct.
Liberal Democrat chief whip Wendy Chamberlain said the Home Secretary “has admitted breaking the rules on an industrial scale” and “must resign now”.
“Unless Suella Braverman resigns for the second time, the Conservatives will be putting their own party ahead of this country’s security.”
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