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Mon, 30 January 2023

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Rishi Sunak Urged To Act "Very, Very Quickly" On MI5 Concerns Over Suella Braverman

Rishi Sunak Urged To Act 'Very, Very Quickly' On MI5 Concerns Over Suella Braverman

Rishi Sunak's decision to bring Suella Braverman back as Home Secretary six days after she was sacked over security breaches has drawn criticism (Alamy)

4 min read

A Conservative former Cabinet minister has said Rishi Sunak needs to urgently respond to claims that top level security service MI5 had “concerns” about Home Secretary Suella Braverman.

According to the Daily Mail, Braverman, who was reappointed as Home Secretary by Sunak on Tuesday despite having resigned from the position over a security breach less than a week earlier, was also included in an investigation this year by a little-known unit within the Cabinet Office that handles leak inquiries.

The newspaper reported that the investigation, which also involved MI5 after the leak sparked "concern" in the security service, ultimately found no “conclusive evidence” of who the leaker was.

On Wenesday Jake Berry – who served as Tory party chairman under Liz Truss but was sacked by Sunak this week – said that there were “multiple security breaches” that led to her initial sacking by Truss.

Stephen Crabb told PoliticsHome podcast The Rundown on Thursday that he was alarmed by reports that MI5 could have expressed concerns over the Home Secretary.

“For me, one of the most concerning things that appeared in one of the press stories this morning was a report that MI5 had concerns and were being invited to give her a tutorial on handling emails and sensitive information," Crabb explained. 

“You never ever want to see intelligence sources being quoted in relation to concerns about ministers.

“The relationship between the Home Secretary, Prime Minister and the intelligence community absolutely has to be very clear, very close, and way away from media speculation.

“I think the Prime Minister will want to get that sorted, very, very quickly.”

Tory MP Mark Pritchard, a former member of Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee, also called for “any breakdown” in the relationship between Mrs Braverman and Mi5 to be “sorted ASAP”.

“Mi5 need to have confidence in the Home Secretary – whoever that might be. It’s a vital relationship of trust, key to the UK’s security & democratic oversight of MI5," he tweeted.

“Any breakdown in that relationship is bad for the Security Service and the government. It needs to be sorted ASAP.”

Sunak has defended bringing Braverman back to the Home Office six days after she stood down from the role following allegations of divulging sensitive information via a personal email, despite significant criticism. He said she “made an error of judgment”, but had recognised it and “accepted her mistake".

Crabb recognised that Braverman had become "really quite a significant figure on the right of my party", and understood why Sunak – “a level-headed guy” – had appointed her "to unify the party and include people in the tent".

“The truth is, very few people know exactly what went on – and we hope that those people include the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Secretary, who's advising on the appointments," he continued. 

“It is ultimately Rishi's appointment, the Cabinet Secretary doesn't get to do the reshuffle, it is the Prime Minister's call, so the buck stops with him on this.”

Downing Street has insisted that Braverman maintains "strong relationships" with security services, and rejected the suggestion security analysts might be reluctant to share information with the Home Office.

Labour has demanded an official inquiry into Braverman's conduct, while the Lib Dems have called for the Government to "reopen" the reported security leak investigation involving Braverman as reported by the Daily Mail.

"Given what we've already heard about the circumstances of her resignation, surely this would be the time to reopen that inquiry?” the party’s Cabinet Office spokesperson Christine Jardine asked in the Commons.

“Both to give the security services confidence in the Home Security, and actually for the sake of the Home Secretary herself."

Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden replied: "It is not the case that we ever comment on issues in relation to the security services. However, I would just observe that in all leak inquiries, as she may recall, everyone is interviewed, so I wouldn't read too much into some of those reports.”

  • Listen to the full interview with Stephen Crabb in The Rundown, out soon.

 

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