Priti Patel: She’s smiling in this stock photo, but is she smiling today? [Image: EPA.]

Let’s get this straight: Priti Patel travelled to Israel without informing the government.

She held discussions involving official business with the leader of one of Israel’s main political parties and also that country’s Prime Minister.

And it has been suggested that she could have used her position as a government minister to win favour with people who could support a leadership campaign against Theresa May.

Now let’s consider the Ministerial Code:

“Ministers have a duty to Parliament to account, and be held to account, for the policies, decisions and actions of their departments and agencies.”

That includes ministers themselves. In holding these meetings in secret, Ms Patel broke this part of the Code.

“It is of paramount importance that Ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament.”

This should include information about their meetings on official business, of course. But Ms Patel did not freely provide this information and the BBC had to find out independently.

“Ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the Prime Minister.”

So Ms Patel must resign.

There’s more:

“Ministers should be as open as possible with Parliament and the public, refusing to provide information only when disclosure would not be in the public interest, which should be decided in accordance with the relevant statutes and the Freedom of Information Act 2000.”

No – Ms Patel hasn’t done that.

“Ministers must ensure that no conflict arises, or appears to arise, between their public duties and their private interests.”

If these meetings are likely to encourage support for a Tory party leadership bid by Ms Patel, then clearly there is a conflict of interest.

“Ministers should not accept any gift or hospitality which might, or might reasonably appear to, compromise their judgement or place them under an improper obligation.”

This is implied.

“Ministers must not use government resources for Party political purposes.”

This is also implied.

Ms Patel’s behaviour is clearly a matter that demands her resignation as a minister.

But an inquiry is required, it seems to This Writer, in order to establish exactly how far the transgression has gone.

What did this rogue minister say?

What did this rogue minister do?

What were the implications for the UK government?

What were the implications for her own party?

The problem is, any investigation would be carried out – and adjudicated – by our minority prime minister, the weakling Theresa May.

Expect this serious matter to be brushed under the carpet.

The International Development Secretary held undisclosed meetings in Israel without telling the Foreign Office while accompanied by an influential pro-Israeli Conservative lobbyist, the BBC has learned.

Priti Patel met the leader of one of Israel’s main political parties and made visits to several organisations where official departmental business was reportedly discussed.

According to one source, at least one of the meetings was held at the suggestion of the Israeli ambassador to London.

In contrast, British diplomats in Israel were not informed about Ms Patel’s plans.

Ministers are by convention supposed to tell the Foreign Office when they are conducting official business overseas.

No civil servants were present but Ms Patel was accompanied by Lord Polak, honorary president of Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), an influential lobbying organisation that has access to wealthy party donors.

Some ministers and MPs accused Ms Patel of trying to win favour with wealthy pro-Israeli Conservative donors who could fund a potential future leadership campaign.

Source: Priti Patel held undisclosed meetings in Israel – BBC News


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