Towie star James Lock has claimed Priti Patel ‘incited hate’ by slamming influencers who had fled to sunnier climes while Britain was locked down.
The Only Way is Essex star said he had received death threats from members of the public and faced calls for his arrest since Priti Patel’s comments last month.
Weeks ago, Priti Patel launched a scathing attack on influencers who were ‘showing off in the sun’ while the rest of Britain was under lockdown.
The Home Secretary slammed reality TV stars for bragging about their holidays and people ‘turning up with their skis at St Pancras Station’, adding, ‘Going on holiday is not an exemption.’
Scores of reality TV stars ‘used loopholes’ to flee to Dubai to lounge in luxury hotels, pose for pictures with cocktails on sun loungers and enjoy beach parties.
But TOWIE star James Lock has hit back at the Home Secretary and said her comments sparked a wave of criticism directed at those who were abroad.
TOWIE star James Lock, pictured with his ex-girlfriend Yazmin Oukhellou, has hit back at the Home Secretary and accused her of inciting hate after she slammed influencers in Dubai
Lockie, 34, said he had received death threats as a result of the Home Secretary’s comments
James, known as Lockie, told the Sun: ‘We’ve been bombarded with vile abuse.
‘We have had death threats. People have said ‘I hope you get Covid and die’, they’ve said ‘I hope your family gets Covid and dies’.
‘The hate has increased one hundred per cent after what Priti Patel said in the House of Commons.
‘I think it is disgusting she has tried to use influencers as a scapegoat. It is embarrassing the government are trying to pass the blame.
‘She has basically incited hate. We’ve been bombarded with hate and death threats ever since then. It’s increased tenfold. It’s been crazy.’
The 34-year-old, who said he had also faced calls for arrest and for him to be sacked from TOWIE, insisted he flew out to Dubai for work reasons and told the newspaper that he decided to stay on to seek out more opportunities.
Last month, Priti Patel (pictured meeting NHS staff at a vaccine centre) slammed influencers and social media stars who had fled locked-down Britain to sun themselves in places like Dubai
He is currently in Dubai working as a content creator and is believed to be staying in the hotel as TOWIE co-star Yazmin Oukhellou with whom he recently split.
The couple have mutually agreed to cut ties after their relationship turned toxic, with James, 34, considering flying home while Yazmin, 26, stays in the UAE.
A source revealed to MailOnline yesterday that James and Yazmin are currently living in the same Dubai hotel but in separate rooms after frustrations in their romance reached a climatic point last week.
Home Secretary Priti Patel’s attack on leisure travel and social media influencers sunning themselves overseas during lockdown sparked a furious row among MPs.
They accused her of launching a broadside at Instagram influencers and holidaymakers after being ‘humiliated’ over her attempts to close the UK border completely to foreign arrivals.
She read the riot act to would-be travellers last, warning that people on fake work jaunts and social media attention-seekers heading for sunny destinations will be turned away from airports.
James Lock regularly posted pictures of himself with a laptop working on social media
Influencers boasting of sunshine foreign breaks amid the global pandemic faced a furious public backlash after they were slammed by the Home Secretary.
As they shared photos from sun loungers, lockdown had appeared not to apply to so-called influencers and models who ‘used loop-holes’ to jet off the sunnier climes under the guise of work.
But foreign travel – apart from some exceptions – has been illegal since the lockdown law was passed on January 5.
There was also confusion over what would constitute an acceptable journey abroad and who would police the policy.
At the end of January, the UK Government added the United Arab Emirates to the so-called red list of countries from where travel to Britain is prohibited during the coronavirus pandemic.
The ban came as the country saw a surge in coronavirus cases after throwing its doors open to sun-seekers in the New Year.
While many countries shut down travel from Britain after the UK variant was blamed for an exponential growth in cases in Kent and elsewhere, Dubai kept its doors open.
But cases have climbed alarmingly for weeks, with deaths also rising to their highest level since the spring, forcing some new restrictions on gyms and bars.
The rise in cases caused alarm and the UK first struck the UAE off its travel corridor list and then imposed an outright ban in the last week of January.
The ban means anyone arriving home from the UAE will have to quarantine in a hotel at their own expense for 10 days starting on Monday.
A Government spokesperson said: ‘People should not be travelling unless absolutely essential. Going on holiday is not an exemption, it is vital that people stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.’