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Sunday, September 12, 2021

Breaking the rules

Boris Johnson is a serial rule-breaker, in fact he has built a career on his willigness to buck the trend when it is in his own interests. It is lttle surprise therefore to find that he tolerates similar traits in other members of his government.

Amongst those who like to do things their own way is Priti Patel, who was notoriously forced to step down as international development secretary in 2017 after it emerged she failed to be candid with Theresa May about 14 unofficial meetings with Israeli ministers, businesspeople and a senior lobbyist.

Whether Johnson takes the same approach as his predecessor in dealing with his Home Secretary's latest alleged indiscretion is another matter.

The Guardian reports that Priti Patel has been accused of being “reckless” and a “serial offender” in breaching the ministerial code after allegations she brokered a meeting between a billionaire Tory donor and British Airways:

The Sunday Mirror reported that Priti Patel arranged a meeting on 11 August at Heathrow airport’s Hilton Garden Inn, which is part of a chain owned by Tory donor Surinder Arora.

Arora, the founder and chairman of the Arora Group, was at the meeting along with his son Sanjay, the Arora strategy director; Arora chief financial officer, Carlton Brown; the chief executive of Dubai Airports, Paul Griffiths; and BA corporate affairs director, Lisa Tremble.

BA chief executive Sean Doyle was reportedly invited but could not attend.

But the Sunday Mirror reported there was no official from the Home Office present, as rules would dictate there should be if government business was discussed. The ministerial code states: “A private secretary or official should be present for all discussions relating to government business.

“If a minister meets an external organisation or individual and finds themselves discussing official business without an official present – for example at a social occasion or on holiday – any significant content should be passed back to the department as soon as possible after the event.”

A spokesperson for the home secretary said: “Details of all the home secretary’s relevant external meetings will be published in the usual way in accordance with the ministerial code.”

It is understood that Patel considered it a private meeting and that the lunch was declared to her private office.

There will no doubt be eyebrows raised at this latest incident given past behaviour, however whether it amounts to a breach of the code and whether Johnson can afford to lose his Home Secretary at this time, has yet to be seen.
I am more interested in what was said but as you say ,yes broken the code but Johnson will not get rid of her
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