Attorney general says Cummings tweet could not be considered legal opinion as it was ‘only 10 words long’
PUBLISHED: 16:34 21 July 2020 | UPDATED: 18:28 21 July 2020
The attorney general has denied a tweet she shared defending Dominic Cummings was “legal opinion” and stated that she did not regret her remarks.
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Suella Braverman told a Commons justice committee that her tweet could not have swayed the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) or police because it was “only 10 words long”.
The government’s top legal advisor also said she had no regrets that a message she sent defending Dominic Cummings’ lockdown-breaking trip to Durham Country had caused a media storm for the government.
In June, Braverman showed her support for Cummings by sharing a tweet of a Downing Street statement backing the prime minister’s senior advisor and his other journey to Barnard Castle to “test his eyesight”.
“Protecting one’s family is what any good parent does,” the senior government figure wrote.
“The 10 Downing Street statement clarifies the situation and it is wholly inappropriate to politicise it.”
But during the Commons grilling, Braverman flatly denied her actions could have been perceived as “political interference”.
“I didn’t offer any legal view.
“I don’t think a tweet of some 10 words can really be described as a legal opinion and I’m sure the lawyers around this room will be very familiar with what a legal opinion looks like and how long it often takes to read them.”
She added: “I treat the independence, operationally and in other ways, of the CPS extremely seriously, and there’s no question of my having interfered with or influenced any decision made by the CPS and police in that matter.
“I think it’s clear that my slightly banal-worded tweet was just a welcoming of the clarification.”
She then challenged Maria Eagle, a committee member and Labour MP, over assertions her tweets had constituted an act of “political interference”.
“We obviously have very different ideas about what political interference is.
“A tweet of some 10 words can hardly be considered political interference.”
Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Daisy Cooper said that the MP must apologise.
She said: “The public must be able to have confidence that the Attorney General is providing honest and impartial legal advice to the Government.
“The attorney general undermined public confidence by wading into the Cummings scandal for no reason other than to please No 10. It’s appalling that she still doesn’t seem to understand why what she did was wrong.
“When Suella Braverman was appointed, there were concerns that she would not stand up to No 10 and would put political interests ahead of the rule of law. Sadly, her craven endorsement of Dominic Cummings’ incoherent excuses for breaking the lockdown – and her refusal to apologise for it now – confirms those fears.”
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