UK PM Sunak speaks to ethics adviser over minister's speeding offence

By Andrew MacAskill

LONDON (Reuters) -British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke to his ethics adviser regarding the handling of a speeding offence by his interior minister after calls for an investigation into whether she broke ministerial rules.

Suella Braverman, who oversees the police and law enforcement, said on Monday she regretted the speeding offence last year and paid a fine, but did not attempt to "evade" punishment.

Braverman asked government officials to help arrange a private driving-awareness course to prevent her speeding violation becoming public knowledge, the Sunday Times reported over the weekend.

Opposition parties called on the prime minister to investigate whether Braverman breached the ministerial code over her handling of the speeding incident. Ministers are barred from using government officials to help with their personal affairs.

Sunak, who arrived back in Britain from a G7 meeting in Japan in the early hours of Monday, told parliament he had discussions with both his ethics adviser and Braverman but wanted more information before deciding whether to order another investigation into the behaviour of one of his ministers.

"I've asked for further information and I'll update on the appropriate course of action in due course," he said.

Sunak, who promised to restore government integrity and professionalism when he took power in October following protracted turmoil under Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, has already lost three cabinet members to scandal.

The opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer said Sunak must immediately begin an investigation and Braverman should resign if it finds that she broke ministerial rules.

Braverman resigned from her job last year after she sent confidential information using a private phone. Sunak reappointed her less than a week later in one of his first acts as prime minister.

Braverman is currently at the centre of a debate within government over surging levels of immigration, which her office oversees. The government is bracing for the release of migration figures on Thursday which are expected to confirm a record surge of arrivals last year.

(Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; editing by Alistair Smout, Christina Fincher and Mark Heinrich)