Suella Braverman: Labour demands Rishi Sunak inquiry into email leak - as new asylum seeker claims surface

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The Home Secretary was forced to resign by Liz Truss before being reappointed by new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak when he came into 10 Downing Street.

Questions about Suella Braverman’s conduct as Home Secretary intensified over the weekend, following her reappointment by new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Ms Braverman resigned from Liz Truss’s government over an email leak scandal. While new information reported by the BBC on Sunday (30 October) appeared to contradict her version of events, she has now herself admitted in a letter to the Home Affairs Committee that she forwarded work emails to her personal account six times.

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Meanwhile, separate allegations focused on legal advice given to the Cabinet minister about the illegal detention of thousands of asylum seekers have emerged in The Sunday Times.

Opposition parties have called for an inquiry into the Home Secretary’s conduct, with Labour set to attempt to force the government to publish an assessment it made of her email security breach. So, what’s the latest on the furore around Suella Braverman’s reappointment? Here’s everything you need to know.

Suella Braverman has been dubbed ‘Leaky Sue’ over several reported breaches (image: Getty Images) Suella Braverman has been dubbed ‘Leaky Sue’ over several reported breaches (image: Getty Images)
Suella Braverman has been dubbed ‘Leaky Sue’ over several reported breaches (image: Getty Images) | Getty Images

What’s the latest on Suella Braverman’s email leak?

Suella Braverman has been accused of making “multiple breaches” of ministerial rules after emailing an official government document from her personal account to her political ally Sir John Hayes - a Tory backbench MP. The breach only came to light because she accidentally copied the wrong person - a Parliamentary staffer - into the message.

According to Ms Braverman’s account of what happened, she sent the email by accident after attending a 4am immigration raid. She said it was only a draft written ministerial statement that was due to be released anyway and that she had reported what she described as her “mistake” immediately. The minister has subsequently said the documents did not contain details of any case work, market-sensitive data or information deemed ‘secret’ or ‘top secret’.

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Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Rishi Sunak offered his congratulations to da Silva following his win, writing on Twitter: “Congratulations to @LulaOficial on his victory in Brazil’s election. I look forward to working together on the issues that matter to the UK and Brazil, from growing the global economy to protecting the planet’s natural resources and promoting democratic values.”Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Rishi Sunak offered his congratulations to da Silva following his win, writing on Twitter: “Congratulations to @LulaOficial on his victory in Brazil’s election. I look forward to working together on the issues that matter to the UK and Brazil, from growing the global economy to protecting the planet’s natural resources and promoting democratic values.”
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Rishi Sunak offered his congratulations to da Silva following his win, writing on Twitter: “Congratulations to @LulaOficial on his victory in Brazil’s election. I look forward to working together on the issues that matter to the UK and Brazil, from growing the global economy to protecting the planet’s natural resources and promoting democratic values.” | Getty Images

However, these statements have all been called into question over the last two weeks, with reports suggesting the email was sent at a different time and contained highly sensitive policy information regarding immigration visas. Allegations have also emerged that it was not the only sensitive leak the Home Secretary has made.

Ministers are not allowed to send government documents to their personal accounts, or to share them with anyone.

The matter appeared to have been closed by her resignation from Liz Truss’s Cabinet shortly afterwards. However, her swift reappointment to the role of Home Secretary just six days later by Rishi Sunak has been questioned by politicians from all sides.

On Sunday (30 October), the Home Secretary’s recollection of the timeline of the breach was cast into further doubt after the BBC reported it had seen an email which suggests she did not immediately report her ‘mistake’ to officials.

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According to the BBC, the original email was sent by Suella Braverman at 7.25am on 19 October. At 8.30am, she was informed by the recipient that she had sent it to them in error. Then, at 10.02am, Ms Braverman responded by urging the person to “delete the message and ignore”.

Questions have been raised about whether security services can trust Suella Braverman (image: AFP/Getty Images)Questions have been raised about whether security services can trust Suella Braverman (image: AFP/Getty Images)
Questions have been raised about whether security services can trust Suella Braverman (image: AFP/Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

Around half an hour later, the government chief whip at the time, Wendy Morton, was told about the message by the recipient and then sought to contact the Home Secretary. The BBC reported that Ms Braverman did not raise the incident with officials herself.

An ally told the news organisation that the breach ought to be viewed in the “context of a very packed schedule” and disputed the claim that Ms Braverman had not informed officials of her breach.

On Monday (31 October), the Home Secretary revealed to the Home Affairs Committee that she had forwarded work emails containing government documents to her personal account on six separate occasions. But she insisted she had forwarded none of them to anyone outside of the government. She wrote that she was “sorry for the errors of judgement” while insisting she had been “transparent about my mistakes”.

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Ms Braverman is set to appear in front of MPs to discuss issues at a migrant processing facility (more on that below) on Monday (31 October). But it is likely the session will also see MPs seek out further information on her email leaks.

Rishi Sunak has so far resisted calls to launch an inquiry into his Home Secretary’s conduct. Labour and Liberal Democrats have raised national security concerns and have called for the Cabinet Office to investigate the matter. Separately, Labour is also aiming to get the government to publish its assessment of the email leak, while the Lib Dems have publicly called on Ms Braverman to resign.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman cannot keep running away from these questions. It is far too serious for that, and raises serious doubts about the Prime Minister’s judgement.

Yvette Cooper has questioned Suella Braverman’s suitability for the role of Home Secretary (image:Getty Images)Yvette Cooper has questioned Suella Braverman’s suitability for the role of Home Secretary (image:Getty Images)
Yvette Cooper has questioned Suella Braverman’s suitability for the role of Home Secretary (image:Getty Images) | Getty Images

“People need to know they can trust the Home Secretary with highly sensitive information and our national security. Rishi Sunak’s decision to reappoint Suella Braverman was deeply irresponsible.

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“Labour will use every parliamentary mechanism open to force Government to come clean over her reappointment, to get answers and to require detailed documents to be released to the Intelligence & Security Committee.”

What are the Suella Braverman asylum seeker claims?

According to a story published by The Sunday Times on Saturday (29 October), the Home Secretary was given legal advice that asylum seekers were being held for unlawfully long periods in Kent, but failed to act on it.

The advice, which was given in early October, related to the Manston asylum processing centre in Thanet. Last week, reports emerged of major overcrowding at the facility, which is only meant to hold people for a maximum of 24 hours before moving them on to detention centres or asylum accommodation. Some detainees have been kept at Manston for up to four weeks, with outbreaks of disease now being reported at the centre.

Asylum seekers crossing the channel by boat are being processed at Manston (image: Getty Images)Asylum seekers crossing the channel by boat are being processed at Manston (image: Getty Images)
Asylum seekers crossing the channel by boat are being processed at Manston (image: Getty Images) | Getty Images

The newspaper said five sources had revealed that Ms Braverman was told to urgently resolve the legal breach by moving the people to hotels - requests she reportedly refused despite being told the government could be taken to court and a public inquiry could be launched.

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Claims have also been made that Ms Braverman had “deliberately” opted to sign off on a smaller number of hotels than was required to temporarily house asylum seekers in a bid to reduce the financial burden of asylum hotels on the government.

The Home Office described the allegation that Ms Braverman had deliberately ignored the issue as “completely baseless” and said the Home Secretary had taken “urgent decisions” to ease the developing crisis at Manston.

It comes just weeks after she said it was her “dream” to see refugees and asylum seekers deported to Rwanda. The policy, which was devised by her predecessor Priti Patel, has been halted by a legal challenge.

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