Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 21°C

min temp: 16°C

Search
Suffolk Business Awards 2018 Tickets

Witham MP Priti Patel has ministerial visit cancelled by prime minister in row over Israel meetings

PUBLISHED: 09:50 08 November 2017 | UPDATED: 10:34 08 November 2017

International Development Secretary and Witham MP Priti Patel, who has apologised for taking time out of a family holiday to meet Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other politicians without telling the Foreign Office in advance. Picture: STEFAN ROUSSEAU/PA WIRE

International Development Secretary and Witham MP Priti Patel, who has apologised for taking time out of a family holiday to meet Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other politicians without telling the Foreign Office in advance. Picture: STEFAN ROUSSEAU/PA WIRE

International development secretary Priti Patel – MP for Witham – has been ordered back to Britain by Theresa May to explain herself over unauthorised meetings with Israeli politicians.

Ms Patel began a three-day visit to Africa on Tuesday, but Whitehall sources have said she is flying back to the UK to face questions over the incident.

It is understood Ms Patel held 12 undisclosed meetings while on a family holiday in Israel in August, including with the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It is also believed she met Israeli public security minister Gilad Erdan in Parliament on September 7, and foreign ministry official Yuval Rotem in New York on September 18, following the August meetings in Israel.

The meetings were not reported to the Foreign Office or Government in the usual way, and it is understood Downing Street was told about the New York meeting when Ms Patel revealed the details of her trip to Israel, but No 10 only learnt on Tuesday about the meeting with Mr Erdan.

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

Profile of Priti Patel from 2012

Labour has already demanded an investigation by the Prime Minister’s standards adviser into the meetings, claiming they involved four “serious breaches” of the ministerial code.

Before the extra meetings were revealed, Downing Street insisted Mrs May continued to have confidence in Ms Patel, who was in Africa with International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, after giving her a dressing down on Monday over her trip to Israel.

Number 10 confirmed Ms Patel had discussed the possibility of UK aid being used to support medical assistance for refugees from the Syrian civil war arriving in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

However the Prime Minister’s official spokesman was unable to say whether she had explained when she met Mrs May that the scheme would have involved supplying funding to the Israeli army.

Labour sought to force Ms Patel to explain herself in the Commons by tabling an urgent question, but it was left to Middle East minister Alistair Burt to answer as MPs were told she had left on the trip to Africa.

Ms Patel only made Mrs May aware of the meetings on Friday, more than two months after they took place, when reports began to emerge of talks she held with a politician and a disability charity.

The minister apologised and admitted a “lack of precision” for suggesting last week that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson knew about the trip, and that only two meetings had taken place.

Mrs May also took steps to tighten the ministerial code, asking Whitehall’s top civil servant, Sir Jeremy Heywood, to look at how it can be clarified.

Two vehicles have been involved in a crash in Bury St Edmunds this afternoon.

A Suffolk woman living with a debilitating condition has spoken out about her “depressing” battle to keep her disability benefit – and her life-line car.

An elderly woman called police after finding a burglar searching through her belongings at her home in Harwich.

A violent robber threatened a man with a knife in Essex before stealing packets of tobacco from him.

An Ipswich man has avoided going straight to jail for selling counterfeit goods on Facebook.

Authorities have been given permission to seize almost £117,000 from the bank account of an Ipswich mechanic found to have paid in £2.5million over the course of eight months.

If you have an odd £2.5m or so, you could make a bid for a hall with history. John Norman tells its story.

Most read

Show Job Lists

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

MyDate24 MyPhotos24