PRITI Patel was last night branded “reckless” and a “serial offender” over claims held a secret meeting with a billionaire Tory donor and British Airways.
The Home Secretary was sacked in 2018 as Aid Secretary after holding undeclared meetings with the Israeli government – without any officials present.
The Sunday Mirror reported that Priti Patel arranged a meeting on August 11 at Heathrow Airport’s Hilton Garden Inn, which is part of a chain owned by Tory donor Surinder Arora.
Mr Arora was joined by his son and Arora strategy director, Sanjay; Arora chief financial officer Carlton Brown; the chief executive of Dubai Airports Paul Griffiths; and BA corporate affairs director Lisa Tremble.
But the rulebook for ministers is clear: “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 spokesman 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 the Home Secretary considered it a private meeting and that the lunch was declared to her private office.
But Labour hit back: “This secret lobbying lunch would break the rules three times over. She has serious questions to answer and must be investigated by the Cabinet Secretary immediately.”
Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour’s shadow home secretary, added: “The Home Secretary is so reckless about her duties that it seems she takes part in meetings behind closed doors and without an official present.”
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng was also at the meeting without anyone from his department.
The Sunday Mirror reported that he attended in his role as a local MP as Heathrow borders his Spelthorne constituency.
Mr Arora said “I’ve known Kwasi and Priti for years. I said pop in and have lunch and see my new hotel.
“I don’t do politics. I don’t support anyone. There wasn’t any agenda.”
On Sunday, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said his Cabinet colleague was doing “really well”.
Amid criticism of the Home Secretary’s performance, Mr Javid said on Trevor Phillips On Sunday on Sky News: “It’s a really tough job, and she’s doing really well.”