Labour calls for probe into Priti Patel meetings in Israel

08 November, 2017, 00:40 | Author: Pamela Mathis
  • Priti Patel the International Development Secretary

Labour's spokeswoman for worldwide development, Kate Osamor, said that Ms. Patel should resign or face an investigation by the Cabinet Office for breach of the ministerial code.

DOWNING Street demanded Priti Patel come clean about any more secret meetings with foreign politicians, as her Cabinet career hung by a thread.

Asked if Patel's secret meetings were in breach of the ministerial code, Duncan Smith then did his best to find an imaginative excuse for his colleague.

"The Foreign and Commonwealth Office was aware of my visit while it was under way".

Ms Patel, MP for Witham in Essex, said she was proud of the role which Britain had played in "helping to make a homeland for the Jewish people" and said that the Balfour centenary should be celebrated with pride.

She said they had also been attended by Stuart Polak, the honorary president of the Conservative Friends of Israel and an influential pro-Israel lobbyist.

Kate Osamor, the shadow global development secretary, told the Commons on Tuesday that it was "hard to think of a more black and white case of breaking the ministerial code of conduct".




"In hindsight, I can see how my enthusiasm to engage in this way could be misread, and how meetings were set up and reported in a way which did not accord with the usual procedures", she said.

Patel met Yair Lapid, the leader of one of Israel's main political parties, and made visits to several organisations where official departmental business was reportedly discussed, the BBC said. "I am sorry for this and I apologise for it", Patel said in her apology statement.

The department has not yet responded to questions from Sky News, but Downing Street previously said Ms Patel was on a private holiday "paid for by herself".

The Netanyahu meeting included "prospects for closer collaboration between Israel and the United Kingdom on development and humanitarian issues", Israel-based newspaper Haaretz reports, noting that no minutes were kept.

Andy Slaughter, a member of parliament for the main opposition Labour Party and a vice-chair of the Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East, told Middle East Eye on Friday that Patel's actions had been "outrageous" and compromised Britain's standing as an "honest broker" in distributing aid around the world.

It emerged that Ms Patel tasked DFID officials to look at sending aid cash to the Israeli Army after holding talks with PM Benjamin Netanyahu during a holiday in the country.

However, ministers are by convention supposed to tell the Foreign Office when they are conducting official business overseas. Prime Minister Theresa May said she had spoken to Patel, who had been "reminded of her obligations" as a cabinet minister.

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