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Thu, 9 July 2020

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Suella Braverman calls claims her tweet backing Dominic Cummings undermined legal process ‘absurd’

Suella Braverman calls claims her tweet backing Dominic Cummings undermined legal process ‘absurd’

Attorney General Suella Braverman defended her tweet in support of Dominic Cummings (PA)

3 min read

Attorney General Suella Braverman has labelled claims her tweet in support of Dominic Cummings undermined the legal process “simply absurd”.

The chief legal adviser to the Government insisted she did not take a public legal view by defending Boris Johnson's aide over his drive to Durham during lockdown.

She faced down criticism of her comments and stressed her "full confidence" in the operational independence of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the police.

After it was revealed Mr Cummings had had made the 270-mile journey to his family’s farm, Ms Braverman was one of a number of senior ministers to post supportive messages on social media, saying "protecting one's family is what any good parent does”.

His actions were the subject of a police investigation, with the Durham force concluding he may have committed a "minor breach" of the regulations by taking a trip to Barnard Castle while he was staying in the North East.

Speaking in the Commons, shadow solicitor general Ellie Reeves said: "Can the Attorney General confirm that in assault cases, as in all other Covid-related offences, the law should apply equally to all, and as superintendent of the CPS, by tweeting her support for Dominic Cummings she undermined the impartiality of her role and the rule of law?"

Ms Braverman replied: "It's plain for any reasonable observer to see that there was no question whatsoever of me having provided any public legal view on the matter to which she refers.

"To suggest that was somehow a legal opinion is simply absurd.

"She should know I have no role whatsoever to play in the day-to-day decisions of individual cases.

"I respect and have full confidence in the operational independence of the CPS and the police and I'd gently encourage her to share my support and share my confidence in them."

But the SNP's justice spokeswoman Joanna Cherry pressed the issue, asking: "Whether proceedings are virtual or otherwise, the Crown Prosecution Service must discharge its functions without fear or favour and so must the law officers, given their responsibility for oversight of the CPS.

"So does he agree with me that the law officers should in future refrain from joining in the sort of orchestrated political tweeting we saw about Mr Cummings' cross-country travels, given that such tweets may have the potential to prejudice any subsequent police investigation or prosecution?"

Solicitor General Michael Ellis replied: "Well I obviously don't agree with the premise of her question.

"The fact of the matter is that she is seeking herself to politicise the situation.

"The reality of the matter is this isn't a partisan issue, we all know and respect and cherish the independence of the Crown Prosecution Service and that is a long tradition in this country."

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