Exclusive: No 10 knew about Patel meetings

The JC understands that Ms Patel was told by Number 10 not to include extra meetings so as not to embarrass the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.


Number 10 instructed Development Secretary Priti Patel not to include her meeting with the Israel foreign ministry official Yuval Rotem in New York on 18 September in her list of undisclosed meetings with Israelis which was published on Monday, the JC has learned.

Ms Patel listed 12 meetings in the statement, and the emergence of two more last night is thought to have made her sacking imminent.

But the JC understands, from two different sources, that Ms Patel did disclose the meeting with Mr Rotem but was told by Number 10 not to include it as it would embarrass the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

In addition, the JC can reveal 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 22 August - the same day as Ms Patel spoke to Mr Netanyahu - Middle East minister Alistair Burt and Tony Kay, the deputy British ambassador in Israel, met Michael Oren, Deputy Minister at the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.

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.

In addition, Prime Minister Theresa May spoke to Ms Patel in advance of the UN General Assembly and they discussed the Development Secretary’s meeting with Mr Netanyahu, as well as the details of Ms Patel’s plan for UK aid to be shared with the Israelis. Mrs May agreed that the idea was sensible but needed sign off from the FCO.

Analysis: Stephen Pollard

Last night I wrote on the JC site that something didn’t add up about Number Ten’s claim that it had no idea about Priti Patel’s meetings with senior Israelis.

As I put it: “Well before last week's James Landale scoop about Ms Patel's meetings with Israeli politicians, I was told very matter of factly that there would soon be an announcement of cooperation between the UK and Israel over aid in Africa - that we would divert some of our aid money to the Israelis to fund some of their aid work there. I was told that it had been signed off between DfID and Number Ten, but that the FCO had kicked off because it felt its toes were being trodden on.”

After that story went up, I was contacted by two senior and reliable sources.

Both gave exactly the same story: that although Patel had clearly messed up and had to go, the real story was about Number 10.

Far from being unaware, Number 10 knew in full about her meeting with Mr Netanyahu, because Ms Patel had discussed it with the Prime Minister in September, prior to the UN General Assembly.,I then discovered this morning that Number 10 had been told by Ms Patel about her meeting with Israeli foreign office official Yuval Rotem in New York and had specifically asked her not to include it.,It is a truism that with most scandals, the real falloutcomes from the cover up.

My revelations today mean that there are some serious questions for Number 10 to answer about who knew what, when – including the PM.

  • This article was amended on 9 November 2017. An earlier version stated David Quarrey, the British ambassador to Israel, accompanied Alistair Burt in his 22 August meeting with Michael Oren. It was in fact Tony Kay, the deputy ambassador, who attended that meeting.

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