Theresa May accused of covering up secret Priti Patel meetings

Theresa May accused of covering up secret Priti Patel meetings

Theresa May accused of covering up secret Priti Patel meetings

British aid minister Priti Patel was forced to cut short a foreign trip yesterday to answer questions over undisclosed meetings with Israeli officials.

Patel said she met with senior Israeli figures, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Foreign Ministry' Director General Yuval Rotem and opposition leader Yair Lapid.

May responded in a letter, saying: "Now that further details have come to light, it is right that you have made a decision to resign and adhere to the high standards of transparency and openness that you have advocated".

"As you know from our discussions, I accept that in meeting with organisations and politicians during a private holiday in Israel, my actions fell below the high standards that are expected of a Secretary of State", she said.

"I can see how my enthusiasm to engage in this way could be mis-read, and how meetings were set up and reported", Patel said in a statement.

Patel said she "regrets the lack of precision in the wording she used in these statements and is taking the opportunity to clarify the position".

Was Priti Patel acting with your authorisation in any of the meetings she held during her visit to Israel?

According to the Press Association, Downing Street was told about the NY breakfast with Rotem when Patel revealed the details of her trip to Israel, but only learnt on Tuesday about the meeting in Parliament with Erdan. "I am sorry for this and I apologize for it". "The foreign secretary did become aware of the visit, but not in advance of it".

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The JC claimed to have been told by two separate sources that Number 10 instructed Ms Patel not to include these two meetings in her original release.

Patel is the second cabinet minister to quit May's government a week after Michael Fallon resigned as defence secretary over allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior on November 1.

And now she has had to deal with a cabinet minister who appears to have held talks with more than a dozen Israeli officials in off-the-books meetings while allegedly on vacation.

Ms Patel was also reported to have visited the Golan Heights, territory disputed between Israel and Syria, which British officials tend to avoid.

She was accompanied at all the meetings bar one in Israel by the honorary president of the Conservative Friends of Israel lobbying group, Lord Polak.

Ms Osamor showed she was less than happy about that, telling MPs: "It is hard to think of a more black and white case of breaking the ministerial code of conduct but rather than change the minister, the prime minister somehow decided last night that it is the ministerial code itself that needs changing".

The ministerial code that governs the behavior of members of the British government makes no specific mention of secret meetings with foreign heads of government, but it does urge ministers to take "special care" when talking about issues "which are the responsibility of other ministers".

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