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Home » Suella Braverman Was Embroiled In Probe Over Leak That Raised ‘concerns’ At MI5

Suella Braverman Was Embroiled In Probe Over Leak That Raised ‘concerns’ At MI5

Suella Braverman was probed by Government officials as part of an inquiry into the leak of a sensitive story involving Britain’s security services, the Daily Mail can reveal today.

The Home Secretary was included in an investigation this year by a little-known unit within the Cabinet Office that handles leak inquiries.

The leak related to a story about the Government’s plan to apply for an injunction against the BBC to stop it from identifying a spy who was accused of using his position to terrorise his former partner.

At the time, Suella Braverman was Attorney General, the Government’s chief legal advisor – and the story said that it was she who was seeking the injunction. It is understood that the leak about her plans caused ‘concern’ to the Security Service, MI5.

An investigation was launched by the Government Security Group, a little-publicised unit within the Cabinet Office. As the leak involved an issue of national security, it is understood that MI5 also had a role in the inquiry.

Suella Braverman was probed by Government officials as part of an inquiry into the leak of a sensitive story involving Britain’s security services, the Daily Mail can reveal today

An investigation was launched by the Government Security Group, a little-publicised unit within the Cabinet Office. As the leak involved an issue of national security, it is understood that MI5 also had a role in the inquiry

The Mail understands that the investigation ultimately found no ‘conclusive evidence’ of who the leaker was. A Whitehall source said: ‘They did not find conclusive evidence of who the leaker was. There was a wide field of potential leakers.’ The source added: ‘If there had been solid knowledge of who was responsible, the matter wouldn’t have been left to rest there.’

Last night, a Cabinet Office spokesman: ‘We do not comment on alleged leak investigations.’

The disclosure of Mrs Braverman’s inclusion in the investigation may pose further questions for No 10 about the decision to reappoint her as Home Secretary on Tuesday.

Mrs Braverman was brought back only six days after she resigned for a breach of the ministerial code. The breach related to the alleged sending of a sensitive policy document from a personal e-mail account on her mobile phone.

The new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has since faced criticism for re-appointing her to the Home Office so soon after her resignation. There has been speculation that his decision was influenced by Mrs Braverman backing him for leader at the weekend, an endorsement which proved crucial to his election as Tory leader and PM.

Yesterday, Mr Sunak was questioned over the issue in his first Prime Minister’s Questions. He defended her, saying: ‘The Home Secretary made an error of judgment but she recognised that, she raised the matter and she accepted her mistake.’

The new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has since faced criticism for re-appointing her to the Home Office so soon after her resignation

There has been speculation that his decision was influenced by Mrs Braverman backing him for leader at the weekend, an endorsement which proved crucial to his election as Tory leader and PM

Downing Street also faced questions over issue – and over reports that Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary, had been ‘livid’ at her reappointment. A No.10 spokesman denied that – but declined to deny suggestions that Mr Case had advised against rehiring Mrs Braverman so soon.

In the Commons yesterday the Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper asked a series of questions about Mrs Braverman’s re-appointment, and even asked whether the Home Secretary had been granted top-level security clearance which allows her to view ‘Top Secret’ material.

Miss Cooper highlighted how the then PM Liz Truss had sacked Mrs Braverman last week for sending sensitive documents from a personal email account – a breach of ministerial rules.

Miss Cooper said: ‘The Home Secretary is responsible for national security, so has the Home Office, Cabinet Office or Security Service now undertaken an investigation into her security breaches to see how many others there have been?’

The Labour front-bencher asked 12 specific questions about the affair, including whether any senior officials raised ‘security concerns’ about the re-appointment.

She also asked if it was true that ‘the Home Secretary was, while she was Attorney General, investigated for a leak of information relating to the Security Service’.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Jeremy Quin, replied: ‘I believe in redemption, I hope the Right Honourable lady [Miss Cooper] can as well. The Prime Minister has made clear that this Government will act with professionalism, integrity and accountability. That is exactly what this Government will be doing.’

The leak at the centre of the latest claims involved a story in The Daily Telegraph, published on January 22, setting out details of the Government’s plan to apply for an injunction against the BBC.

Mrs Braverman was brought back only six days after she resigned for a breach of the ministerial code

The Government’s legal action was intended to prevent the Corporation from naming a spy, referred to as ‘Agent X’, who was accused of using his position to terrorise his former partner. At that stage Mrs Braverman was in Boris Johnson’s Cabinet as Attorney General, the Government’s most senior law officer, and was overseeing the legal action.

It is understood there was ‘concern’ in MI5 about the leak and an inquiry – by the Government Security Group – was triggered. It is understood Mrs Braverman was included in the investigation, but it is not known what the inquiry involved. Typically those included in leak inquiries can have their phones taken from them.

The Government Security Group is comprised of officials drawn from different departments including the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence. Some are also on secondment from M15 and M16. They are known to be ruthless in their inquiries.

During one leak probe during Boris Johnson’s government they turned up unannounced one evening at the home of a Cabinet Minister and demanded he hand over his mobile phone.

Mrs Braverman was promoted to Home Secretary by Miss Truss this September. At that moment, she became responsible for overseeing the work of the Security Service. One of the most sensitive jobs in government, the Home Secretary is responsible for signing off surveillance warrants and other highly-classified functions of Britain’s spy agencies, as well as for the UK’s counter-terrorism policy.

Last Wednesday Mrs Braverman was forced to resign after a ‘fiery’ row with Miss Truss over immigration, and after it emerged she had sent a sensitive policy document from a personal e-mail account on her mobile phone. Mrs Braverman admitted that she had ‘made a mistake’ and had committed a ‘technical infringement’ of the rules. The leak of the story about the Government’s plans for an injunction over the BBC’s story ultimately proved to be detrimental to the Government’s case.

In a hearing on January 26 before Mr Justice Chamberlain, lawyers for Attorney General Mrs Braverman argued the case should be heard behind closed doors. The judge ruled against the Government – in part because information was already in the public domain – and said the case should be partly heard in open court.