Critics call for insider-trading probe into Braverman emails

Written by Tevye Markson on 4 November 2022 in News
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Letter asks Whitehall chief Case to investigate

Credit: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay   Image has been cropped

Labour has reignited calls for Whitehall’s top civil servant to investigate Suella Braverman, claiming the home secretary's sharing of official documents via a personal email account may have broken insider trading laws.

Shadow city minister Tulip Siddiq has written to cabinet secretary Simon Case, calling for an investigation into whether the home secretary shared market-sensitive information when she shared an announcement on growth visa plans from her personal email address to several figures outside government.

She has also asked the Financial Conduct Authority to investigate the potential breach of regulations – which Braverman has denied.

The Labour MP said the leak – which led to Braverman’s resignation on 19 October, before she was reappointed by new prime minister Rishi Sunak six days later – may have influenced financial markets by altering Office for Budget Responsibility projections. 

Siddiq said the disclosure of the policy could have led to insider trading on the value of sterling and may have breached government market abuse regulation.

“It is alarming that the home secretary has been distributing documents with serious market implications without any consideration for their security or for market integrity,” she said. “This would be very serious at any level but is intolerable and inexcusable for the home secretary to be guilty of directly leaking market-sensitive plans. The ministerial code calls for accountability and honesty. There can be no exception for Suella Braverman."


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Siddiq has asked the cabinet secretary to commit to an inquiry looking into the potential market impact of the leak and what regulations may have been breached.

Braverman was sacked after sending a draft written ministerial statement to MP Sir John Hayes and, inadvertently, to another MP, containing high-level proposals for adapting points-based migration rules, including increasing the number of low-skilled foreign workers. 

She has denied claims that the draft report – which she said was shared “by mistake” – contained any market-sensitive information. In a letter to the Home Affairs Select Committee earlier this week, she said "all the data contained in the document was already in the public domain". 

But Siddiq said it is not just data that can be deemed as market sensitive and asked Case to investigate whether information leaked from the report such as policy plans were market sensitive.

Siddiq pointed to the Financial Conduct Authority’s best practice advice for government departments handling inside information to highlight the impact Braverman's actions could have on the UK financial market.

The guidance says: “Because of the work you do, your organisation may hold information that is confidential, non-public and valuable. If it was disclosed to the public, it could affect the market prices of shares and other financial instruments. If handled incorrectly, it could lead to disorderly markets. This would damage the integrity of the UK market, as well as creating the potential for market abuse, such as insider trading”.

Siddiq also repeated calls for the next independent advisor on ministers’ interests to investigate the circumstances around the leak, in her letter to Case.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Jeremy Quin, said last week that events taking place under Liz Truss's leadership of the country “would not be properly part of the remit” of the ethics adviser. This was decried by FDA general secretary Dave Penman as "mental gymnastics" to avoid investigating Braverman.

The home secretary has been under increasing pressure since she was reappointed to the role over the leaks and a subsequent overcrowding crisis at a migrant facility in Dover.

 

About the author

Tevye Markson is a reporter at PublicTechnology sister publication Civil Service World, where a version of this story first appeared. He tweets as @TevyeMarkson.

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