Embattled British cabinet minister Priti Patel resigns

She returned to London at the request of British Prime Minister Theresa May

Embattled British cabinet minister Priti Patel resigns

File photo of Priti Patel meeting staff and volunteers in London | Image: Yui Mok/PA Wire/PA Images

Updated: 19.40

Priti Patel has resigned as Britain's international development secretary, according to Downing Street.

She returned to London at the request of British Prime Minister Theresa May over a series of undisclosed meetings with Israeli political figures.

Ms Patel was in Africa on an official trip when she was recalled to London.

She apologised earlier this week but details of two further meetings have since emerged.

It put Mrs May under new pressure to sack her Cabinet minister.

It is understood Ms Patel met Israel's public security minister Gilad Erdan in parliament on September 7th and foreign ministry official Yuval Rotem in New York on September 18th.

Mrs May was reportedly told about the New York meeting on Monday, but only learned about the meeting with Mr Erdan on Tuesday.

Posting on Twitter at the time of the meeting, Mr Erdan revealed he and Ms Patel discussed how "to advance UK-Israel development cooperation".

Priti Patel smiling as she arrived at 10 Downing Street in London | Image: John Stillwell/PA Wire/PA Images

Ms Patel was already under scrutiny after she failed to inform either the UK's foreign office or Downing Street about 12 meetings she held with top officials during a 13-day "family holiday" to Israel in August.

She has apologised for actions which she says 'fell below the high standards expected'.

In her resignation letter, Ms Patel says: "In recent days there have been a number of reports about my actions and I am sorry that these have served as a distraction from the work of the Department for International Development and of the Government as a whole.

"As you know from our discussions I accept that in meeting with organisations and politicians during a private holiday in Israel my actions fell below the high standards that are expected of a Secretary of State.

"While my actions were meant with the best of intentions, my actions also fell below the standards of transparency and openness that I have promoted and advocated.

"I offer a fulsome apology to you and to the Government for what has happened and offer my resignation."

"It is right that you have decided to resign"

Mrs May says she is right to step down after new details emerged in the last couple of days.

In a response to Ms Patel, Mrs May says: "The UK and Israel are close allies, and it is right that we should work closely together. But that must be done formally, and through official channels.

"That is why, when we met on Monday, I was glad to accept your apology and welcomed your clarification about your trip to Israel over the summer.

"Now that further details have come to light, it is right that you have decided to resign and adhere to the high standards of transparency and openness that you have advocated."