Why do politicians often get cited for speeding?
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As Fast and Furious X (yes, ten!) hits the theatres to teenage aplomb, it seems that the adults in the country are also octane-obsessed children at the moment.
Last summer, Suella Braverman was caught speeding in a 50mph zone and was offered a choice between a fine and three points on her license or a group speed awareness course.
After talking to civil servants about the possibility of a private one-on-one course due to “safety concerns”, Braverman is then understood to have asked a special advisor to arrange such a course. The course provider said this was not possible and the home secretary – then attorney general – paid the fine.
However, questions have been raised over whether Braverman breached the ministerial code by asking the politically impartial civil service about matters pertaining to her own private interests. As a result, Rishi Sunak has asked his ethics advisor about the case. It is still unclear what, if any, actions the Prime Minister might take in response to her case.
Another unfavourable element of this case is the fact that one of Braverman’s special advisers, when speaking to The Daily Mirror, denied that there had been any such incident. Of course, the adviser might have been none the wiser, but it still doesn’t look great.
But the home secretary isn’t the only politician to have been caught speeding. What is it about a life in public service that gives one such a strong urge to burn rubber?
In 2018, the then Labour MP for Peterborough, Fiona Onasanya, was found guilty of lying to avoid a fine for speeding and was subsequently expelled from parliament.
Back in 2013, Lib Dem minister Chris Huhne and his wife Vicky Pryce both served time in jail for perverting the court of justice after it transpired that Pryce had taken speeding points on her license on behalf of her husband a decade earlier.
Yes, speeding endangers the lives of others and should be punished. And of course, the civil service must remain impartial. But a simple inquiry about the possibility of a private speeding course to avoid any potential “Ha! Check out Braverman!”, hardly endangers democracy. Yet involving her civil service aides in what should have been an entirely personal matter could well turn out to be a breach of the code.