Priti Patel, Britain’s senior-most Indian-origin minister has been forced to resign from her cabinet position over her unauthorised meetings with Israeli state functionaries that she failed to disclose.
Ms Patel was on an official tour of Africa when she was asked to abandon her tour to Uganda and Ethiopia on Wednesday and asked to return to London.
The 45-year-old Conservative MP resigned as the International Development Minister late on Wednesday night after a meeting with the British Prime Minister Theresa May.
The controversial episode has put an abrupt halt to the meteoric rise of Ms Patel was often touted as a potential future leader of the Conservative party and a prime ministerial candidate.
Ms Patel apologised saying her actions fell below the standards of transparency and openness that she claimed to promote and advocate for.
She found herself in hot water over her meetings with Israeli functionaries, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a private visit to Israel that were not reported. She had already apologised on Monday for her actions, before she embarked on an official tour of Africa.
It also emerged that during her visit to Israel, she visited a military hospital on the Golan Heights where Syrian patients are treated by Israeli doctors. She allegedly sought to divert British aid money for Syrian humanitarian operations to the Israeli military.
In a statement, Ms Patel attributed the failure to report her meetings to her enthusiasm.
"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," she said on Monday.
But it later emerged she had two further meetings that were not disclosed through proper procedures.
It is understood that she met Israel's public security minister Gilad Erdan in the UK Parliament complex in early September and an Israeli foreign ministry official Yuval Rotem in New York later that month.
Under British protocol, ministers are required to organise meetings through the foreign office in the presence of diplomats, and meetings with Israelis would typically be balanced with meetings with Palestinians.
In the UK, ministers are required to inform the Foreign Office about conducting official business overseas. But the British diplomats in Israel were not informed about Ms Patel’s meetings including with PM Netanyahu in Israel.
Ms Patel was first elected to the House of Commons from Witham in Essex in 2010 during the David Cameron government and was appointed treasury minister in 2014 and then employment minister.