Priti Patel gets herself in a pickle after trying to play The Guardian
The international development secretary has apologised - days after insisting that she had done nothing wrong.
When The Guardian probed claims that Priti Patel broke the ministerial code by holding undeclared meetings in Israel, the ambitious cabinet minister issued a stern response in a calculated bid to kill the story.
"Boris knew about the visit," she said. "The point is that the Foreign Office did know about this, Boris knew."
Warming to her theme, the international development secretary then expressed Johnathan Aitken-esque outrage at the pesky paper for daring to question what she was up to.
Brandishing her sword of truth, she declared boldly: "I went out there, I paid for it. And there is nothing else to this. It is quite extraordinary. It is for the Foreign Office to go away and explain themselves."
Alas the Foreign Office now appears to have explained themselves as Patel requested – and it looks like the cabinet minister was being somewhat economical with the truth.
"On Friday 3rd November, the secretary of state was quoted in the Guardian newspaper," says a statement put out by the Department for International Development. "This quote may have given the impression that the secretary of state had informed the foreign secretary about the visit in advance. The secretary of state would like to take this opportunity to clarify that this was not the case. The foreign secretary did become aware of the visit, but not in advance of it."
DfiD has also disclosed that Patel’s meetings were more extensive than first thought, including one with the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Meanwhile Patel has personally apologised for breaking the ministerial code, saying: “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. I am sorry for this and I apologise for it.”
It is not clear if she has yet apologised to The Guardian...
Picture credit: Press Association.