The Only Way is Essex star James Lock has accused Priti Patel of “inciting hate” on influencers who have been travelling to Dubai during the pandemic.

In January, the home secretary criticised influencers for “showing off in the sun” and reiterated that “going on holiday” is not an exemption to rules that prevent people in the UK from travelling abroad.

Now, speaking to The Sun, Lock, who has been in Dubai since December, has claimed that Patel’s comments have led to people bombarding him with “vile abuse” on social media.

“We have had death threats,” he said. “People have said ‘I hope you get Covid and die’, they’ve said ‘I hope your family gets Covid and dies’.”

Lock added: “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 UAE has now been added to the UK’s red travel list, meaning that there are no direct flights between the two countries.

Lock insists that he hasn’t broken any rules and claims that he flew to Dubai for work reasons.

“People have called for us to be arrested and sacked from TOWIE,” he said. “We’ve lost followers but we haven’t actually done anything wrong. We flew out before lockdown and stayed out here.

“I understand some influencers have just been out partying but I’ve been working every day to make money.”

Regarding travel, the government website currently states: “Under current UK Covid-19 restrictions, you must stay at home. You must not travel, including abroad, unless you have a legally permitted reason to do so. It is illegal to travel abroad for holidays and other leisure purposes.”

A government spokesperson told The Independent in response to the comments: “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.”



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