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Interior Minister Priti Patel has been accused by a group of senior members of the House of having avoided being watched during a national emergency.

Patel was scheduled to testify in public before the select interior affairs committee on the Interior Ministry’s response to the coronavirus pandemic since January, but a hearing date has yet to be set.

The select committee chair, Yvette Cooper, has written six letters to Patel in the past three months to officially set a date for the Minister of the Interior to testify.

Meanwhile, Patel has been accused of belittling Interior Ministry officials, Sir Philip Rutnam having resigned from his post as permanent secretary amid allegations of constructive dismissal and intimidation.

After not responding to several of Cooper’s letters, Patel responded on Tuesday, writing that she was “disappointed with the increasingly accusatory tone of our discussions.”

She added that she was “very sorry” that the committee had declined her offer of private briefings to the Home Office, but that she “would make herself … available for a session with the committee, on our response to Covid- 19, towards the end of the month ”.

In response, Cooper said the committee was preparing to meet remotely for the April 15 hearing. “We believe there is no reason to delay beyond this date,” said Cooper.

“A postponement until the end of the month would be manifestly inappropriate given the urgency of the public information and the necessary responses. This is why we have to keep it as soon as possible, and this is why we ask you to come and testify for many, many weeks in continuous correspondence.

“We continue to welcome the transparent approach of the other ministers, notably the Secretary of Justice, the Secretary of Labor and Pensions, the Secretary of Transport and the Secretary of Health who have already testified before their select committees or who have agreed an early date to do so.

“This is a time of national emergency where public information, comfort, leadership, transparency and control are in the national interest. At a time like this, we therefore expect the Minister of the Interior and senior officials to demonstrate public leadership and transparency and to be ready to answer public questions without delay. “

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry told the Guardian: “The Minister of the Interior accepted the invitation to appear before the select committee on internal affairs before the end of April.

“As expected, she is currently leading the Home Office response during this national crisis, working tirelessly to keep the British public safe. “


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