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08 November 2017, 12:42 | Lowell Little
Priti Patel speaking at the Jewish News-BICOM policy conference
He said: "She also had meetings with a number of charities and I find it utterly unsurprising that the worldwide aid secretary would want to talk to charities while she's on holiday in a particular area about whether or not we can use the British aid budget to diminish the humanitarian problems there".
The International Development Secretary is under mounting pressure to explain her actions after it was revealed she held a series of meetings with Israeli government ministers without informing Downing Street.
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".
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.
The only assurance the Development Secretary was able to give No10 was that she hadn't "organised meetings with foreign Governments outside of the normal channels while on holiday". United Kingdom ministers are required to notify the Foreign Office when conducting official business overseas, but Patel admitted that she failed to do so.
The statement said that Patel and Netanyahu had held an "introductory meeting" in which they had discussed Patel's family background as the daughter of Ugandan Indian migrants growing up in an area of the United Kingdom with a "thriving Jewish community". May yesterday summoned Patel to No 10 to "remind her of the obligations which exist under the ministerial code".
"She saw the Israeli prime minister with a donor lobbyist, and failed to declare or admit to the meetings".
"It appears to me to a be a gross breach of the exiting code of ministerial conduct".
She was accompanied by Lord Polak, honorary president of Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), an influential lobbying organisation, during the visit in August.
Downing Street said the premier had accepted her apology and considered the matter closed.
"My first and only aim as the Secretary of State for International Development is to put the interests of British taxpayers and the world's poor at the front of our development work". "It is not about who else I met", she said, "I have friends out there". While away, I had the opportunity to meet a number of people and organizations.
Patel said: "In hindsight, I can see how my enthusiasm to engage in this way could be mis-read, and how meetings were set up and reported in a way which did not accord with the usual procedures".
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