Priti Patel: Number 10 'knew about secret Israeli meeting and told her not to declare'

Downing Street deny telling International Development Secretary Ms Patel to withhold the information

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Wednesday 08 November 2017 12:30
Priti Patel set to be sacked

Downing Street have denied instructing Priti Patel not to publicise one of the meetings she had with an Israeli minister because it could have embarrassed Boris Johnson’s Foreign Office.

Theresa May's spokesman accepted Number 10 knew about a meeting between Ms Patel and Yuval Rotem, but said the minister's department did not put it in a list disclosing 12 meetings that took place on her summer holiday because it occurred several months later.

It was thought the emergence of the Rotem meeting in New York would give Ms May further reason to sack Ms Patel, who is expected to lose her job today.

But a Number 10 spokesman said Ms Patel did disclose the September 18 meeting when she met and was censured by Theresa May on Monday.

He explained that the reason the meeting did not appear on the list of disclosed appointments was because the Department for International Development had confined the list to those that took place on her summer holiday to Israel.

The Independent understands that Ms Patel still faces the sack because she did not disclose to Ms May another meeting that took place after the summer holiday, one with Israeli public security minister Gilad Erdan in Westminster on September 7.

Reports have claimed Number 10 instructed Ms Patel not to publicise the Rotem meeting, because it would be too embarrassing to Mr Johnson and the Foreign Office.

The furore now raises questions as to whether Foreign Secretary Mr Johnson is being fully kept in the loop as to the foreign activity of all of Ms May's other ministers.

One ex-Conservative minister told The Independent: “This is an absolute mess.

“There is already a turf war going on between Boris and Priti. The idea that Downing Street knew about her stepping on his toes and didn’t tell him is hugely embarrassing for him.”

The Jewish Chronicle reported on Tuesday that two different sources had told them, Ms Patel did disclose the meeting with Mr Rotem to Downing Street but was told by Number 10 not to include it as it would embarrass the Foreign Office.

In addition, the newspaper reported that although Ms Patel’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not authorised in advance, the British Government was made aware of it within hours.

On August 24, the same day Ms Patel spoke to Mr Netanyahu, Middle East minister Alistair Burt and the British Ambassador to Israel met Michael Oren, Deputy Minister at the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, the JC reported.

According to the notes of the meeting, Mr Oren referred to Ms Patel having had a successful meeting with Mr Netanyahu earlier. It is understood that this information was then conveyed to Number 10 - Downing Street have denied knowing about Ms Patel's meeting with Mr Netanyahu before last Friday.

The JC, went on to report that Ms May spoke to Ms Patel in advance of the UN General Assembly in September and they discussed the minister’s meeting with Mr Netanyahu, as well as the details of Ms Patel’s plan for UK aid to be shared with the Israelis, something which Ms May said needed Foreign Office sign off.

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