Priti Patel breaks rules again after secret meeting with billionaire and British Airways

Home Secretary Priti Patel was branded a serial offender last night in a secret “lobbying” meeting she negotiated between a billionaire Tory donor and British Airways.

In an alleged breach of the ministerial code, Ms Patel held high-level talks at the Hilton Garden Inn at Heathrow Airport without an Home Office official present – as the rules dictate.

The hotel is part of a chain owned by Ms. Patel’s friend, Surinder Arora.

Weeks earlier he had said he needed “all the help we can get from the government” after Covid drove bookings down 90%. And he has the ambition to build and operate a third Heathrow runway.

Tonight Labor called for an investigation by Cabinet Secretary Simon Case into the Home Secretary’s conduct.

It is almost exactly the same behavior of Ms Patel who forced her resignation as International Development Secretary in 2017 when she held unauthorized meetings with Israeli officials.

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Angela Rayner of Labor said Priti Patel was a “serial offender”


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Deputy Head of Labor Angela Rayner said: “The Home Secretary is a serial offender who breaks the ministerial code. It is time for the Prime Minister to take his release card away from him. This secret lobbying lunch is breaking the rules and she has serious questions to answer.

“It should be investigated by the Secretary to the Cabinet immediately.”

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng was invited to the meeting and was there without anyone from his department.

A source said: “Priti has always been helpful to her friends. But that is not the way it should be done in government. This meeting should not have taken place without an official there.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng was at the meeting


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Our revelation will put more pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to dump Ms Patel in an impending Cabinet reshuffle.

The Wednesday August 11 meeting was at the request of Mr. Arora, whose group has 16 hotels, most at airport sites.

The tycoon, worth around £ 1.2 billion, donated between £ 5 and £ 6,000 to Philip Hammond when the former Chancellor was his local MP.

Lord Hammond is now chairman of the Arora Advisory Board. Also present at the lunch were Surinder’s son and Arora’s chief strategy officer, Sanjay, Arora’s chief financial officer, Carlton Brown, and Dubai airports general manager, Paul Griffiths.

Mr. Griffiths declined to comment on the meeting.

Surinder Arora Ray said he needs “all the help we can get” from the government


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BA’s chief executive, Sean Doyle, was also invited, but was unable to attend and instead sent his general affairs director, Lisa Tremble.

She said: “It was an informal lunch. There was no agenda. There was no hard lobbying and it was extremely broad. “

He was asked if an official should have been present. Ms Tremble added: “That’s not a question for me.”

Sources say topics covered included passenger tracking forms for Covid contact tracing, airport and airline regulation – and the red, orange and green country tagging system that decides which passengers should be put. in quarantine.

Dubai changed from red to amber six days before the meeting, but there is no indication that none of the lunch attendees had anything to do with it.

Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “Priti Patel has already broken the ministerial code by intimidating her officials.

“The Minister of the Interior is so reckless in her duties that she seems to participate in closed meetings without an official presence.

“As always with the Conservatives, the rules never apply to them.”

The talks took place at the Hilton Garden Inn at Heathrow Airport

Mr. Kwarteng was present in his role as local MP, not as business secretary. Heathrow borders its constituency of Spelthorne in Surrey.

The source added: “But he was still uncomfortable with the idea that everything was unfolding without the presence of those in charge.”

Home Office insiders say it was a private lunch and Ms Patel was not there in an official capacity.

But another source said: “This is nonsense. Ministers cannot meet with one airline. They must all meet them. And there should be someone on their department’s payroll present.

And Whitehall confirmed that the business was discussed over lunch.

In 2017, she was forced to resign from her post as international development secretary for holding unauthorized meetings with Israeli officials.


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A government spokesperson said: “Arora is a major employer in the [Mr Kwarteng’s] constituency. The secretary looked after the affairs of the constituency.

Surinder Arora downplayed the importance of the meeting. He told the Sunday Mirror: “I have known Kwarsi and Priti for years. I said to come, have lunch and see my new hotel.

“I don’t do politics. I can’t stand anybody. There was no agenda.

But in July, Arora told Sky News it would take time for his hotels to even reach 60% of their capacity, adding: “We need all the government help we can get.”

Mr Arora has made a bid to build and operate a third Heathrow runway – in competition with the airport itself.

The Court of Appeal declared any expansion illegal, but Heathrow and Arora are appealing the decision.

In 2019, Ms Patel said she used a box worth £ 2,980, provided by Arora Management Services, to watch Somerset play in Surrey at the Oval cricket ground.

The ministerial code says: “Ministers must ensure that no conflict arises, or appears to arise, between their public duties and their private interests.

And he adds: “A private secretary or official should be present for all discussions relating to government business. “

If ministers are caught off guard while on vacation or at a social event, they must immediately notify their departments – and meetings are published quarterly.

Home Office insiders said the lunch was declared at Ms Patel’s private office. But it does indicate that it was seen as involving government business.

Veteran constitutionalist David Rogers said. “This is a blatant violation of the ministerial code firmly established since the days of Margaret Thatcher.

“Every cabinet minister knows that a government official should be present when government business is being discussed. And having been caught off guard in front of the Home Secretary should know that better than most. “

In 2017, Ms Patel was fired from an official trip to Africa.

Angry Theresa May summoned her to explain previous encounters with Israeli officials and politicians


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An enraged Theresa May summoned her to explain previous meetings with Israeli officials and politicians – including then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – in the absence of Foreign Ministry staff.

Ms Patel duly resigned, telling Ms May in a letter: “I accept that by meeting with politicians and organizations on a private vacation in Israel, my actions have fallen below the high standards expected of a secretary of State. I apologize fully.

The then Prime Minister replied: “The UK and Israel are close allies, and it is right that we work closely together. But it must be formally, through official channels. It is right that you have decided to resign.

Boris Johnson is said to be already angry with Ms Patel over the number of migrants heading to the UK. And she is in a diplomatic war with France over her plans to push migrants back to the middle of the English Channel and her threat to unplug £ 54million to help the French tackle the crossings.

A spokesperson for Ms Patel said: “Details of all relevant external meetings of the Home Secretary will be released in the usual manner in accordance with the ministerial code.”

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