UK Cabinet minister under fire over secret Israel meetings

A Downing Street spokesperson said: 'It is not true that the Prime Minister knew about the International Development Secretary's meeting with PM Netanyahu before Friday November 3.

Soon afterward, Patel submitted a letter of resignation, saying her actions had become a "distraction" from the work of her department and the government in general.

Ms Patel's downfall came after it emerged she had a series of 12 meetings with senior Israeli figures during a holiday in the country in August.

And her future appeared to be decided after reports this morning showed she held two more meetings since her trip to Israel in August.

He said: "She also had meetings with a number of charities and I find it utterly unsurprising that the worldwide aid secretary would want to talk to charities while she's on holiday in a particular area about whether or not we can use the British aid budget to diminish the humanitarian problems there".

Patel also said: "This summer I travelled to Israel, on a family holiday paid for by myself".

"While my actions were meant with the best of intentions, my actions also fell below the standards of transparency and openness that I have promoted and advocated".

Patel apologized, but when details of two further meetings emerged, May acted. The existence of such a meeting or meetings would call into question the official account of Ms Patel's behaviour, and the objective of her visit, ' he said.

Priti Patel is now en route to London where she had been expected to face the sack.

"But that must be done formally, and through official channels".

Ms May reportedly responded in another letter to say she believed that Ms Patel has made the "right" decision.

On 7 September, she met Gilad Erdan, the minister for public security, and was photographed with him on the House of Commons terrace.

It is understood that Downing Street was told about the NY breakfast with Mr Rotem when Ms Patel revealed the details of her trip to Israel, but No 10 only learnt on Tuesday about the meeting with Mr Erdan.

Under British protocol, a cabinet minister would normally organise meetings through the foreign office and be accompanied by officials, and meetings with Israelis would typically be balanced with meetings with Palestinians.

Labour has already demanded an investigation into Patel's meetings with the Israeli government, claiming they involved four "serious breaches" of the ministerial code.

"Number 10 must answer questions about their complicity in this scandal".

Ms Patel is given a face-to-face reprimand by the Prime Minister and reminded about her "responsibilities under the ministerial code".

Priti Patel is flying home from a trip to Africa.

Stephen Pollard wrote in the Jewish Chronicle that an aide at Number 10 had told Ms Patel not to include the meeting in her update on Monday to avoid embarrassing the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

  • Rogelio Becker