May: I did not break the ministerial code


Home Secretary Theresa May has told MPs she did not break the ministerial code when a letter to Education Secretary Michael Gove criticising his department over its handling of allegations of extremism in schools was made public.

Mrs May insisted she did not authorise her letter to be published on the Home Office website, in her first public appearance since the row.

She was summoned to make a statement after an urgent question from shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, who pressed the home secretary to say whether she had written the letter in order for it to be leaked, and if her department had breached the ministerial code by publishing it.

Mrs May said she had been cleared of any wrongdoing by a No 10 inquiry, as she responded on 9 June 2014.

But Ms Cooper questioned why it took three days for the letter to be removed the website, and said the government had been "shambolic".

The home secretary's special advisor, Fiona Cunningham, has stepped down after an internal investigation and Mr Gove has apologised.

Mrs May and Mr Gove have been embroiled in a row over how to tackle extremism, which escalated after the letter was made public on the Home Office website.

Mrs May accused Mr Gove of failing to act following allegations of Islamic extremism in some state schools in Birmingham dating back to 2010, while the education secretary said the Home Office had been unwilling to tackle extremism at its early stages.

Criticising the fall-out, Ms Cooper said: "Instead of showing leadership on working together [to tackle extremism] the home secretary and education secretary chose to let rip at each other making it harder to get the joint sensible working that we need".

She sought assurances that they would not put their "personal reputations and ambitions" ahead of the national interests.

Mrs May insisted the government took extremism very seriously, noting that the current Prevent Strategy "recognises and targets all forms of extremism", including violent and non-violent, "unlike the old strategy" under Labour.

She added that she had excluded more foreign hate preachers than any other home secretary before her.

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