Rishi Sunak defends keeping Michelle Donelan in post and says he was ‘focused on budget’ rather than legal case

Rishi Sunak has defended his decision not to sack a minister who is facing pressure over the use of taxpayer money to cover her legal settlement with an academic.

Science Secretary Michelle Donelan is facing calls to resign after her department covered the £15,000 cost to settle the case after she falsely accused Professor Kate Sang of supporting Hamas, a proscribed terrorist organisation in the UK.

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The prime minister told broadcasters he had been “focused on the budget” when asked why Ms Donelan was still in post.

“You will understand I’ve been focused on the budget, but my understanding of this is that Michelle raised some concerns about some articles that had been shared talking about what happened on 7 October,” he said.

“Subsequently to that, those thoughts I think have been clarified and Michelle has withdrawn those concerns.

“With regard to the settlement, it is a long-standing convention stretching back many years, over different governments of all different parties, including Labour, that the government will fund those legal disputes when it relates to government ministers doing their work.”

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