Priti Patel apologises for not telling Foreign Office of Israel meetings

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International Development Secretary Priti Patel 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.

Ms Patel was accompanied to nearly all of her meetings with Israeli ministers, charities and non-governmental organisations by honorary president of the Conservative Friends of Israel lobbying group, Lord Polak.

She apologised for setting up and reporting the meetings "in a way which did not accord with the usual procedures" and clarified her claim that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson "knew about the visit", admitting he did not know about it in advance.

Ms Patel said: "This summer I travelled to Israel, on a family holiday paid for myself.

"While away, I had the opportunity to meet a number of people and organisations. I am publishing a list of who I met.? The Foreign and Commonwealth Office was aware of my visit while it was under way?.

"In hindsight, I can see how my enthusiasm to engage in this way could be misread, and how meetings were set up and reported in a way which did not accord with the usual procedures. I am sorry for this and I apologise for it.

"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."