A viral tweet accusing Priti Patel of ‘attending immigration raids’ is demonstrably false.
Posting on Twitter, a number of people are sharing an image of the Home Secretary at a National Crime Agency raid with a caption claiming that she was targeting immigrants, but this is not the case.
The truth? As reported in numerous publications including The Evening Standard, Patel joined the National Crime Agency in an operation yesterday to apprehend alleged people smugglers in East London. Seven people were arrested during the raids and are accused of trafficking migrants between France and the UK.
One more time: those arrested were not immigrants, but people suspected of trafficking them illegally and dangerously- a key difference.
However, this has not stopped people on social media from sharing the image with the false caption, and criticising the Home Secretary, including a number of high profile journalists and other notable figures:
If news reports were not enough to go on, this spread of misinformation has in turn caused a number of people to fact check the tweet. Sky News journalist David Chipakupaku posted this useful video:
While government minister Guy Opperman had this to say:
Anonymous but high profile lawyer known as ‘The Secret Barrister’ said:
And Patel herself shared her account of her fun day out:
Speaking about the operation, NCA deputy director of investigations Chris Farrimond told The Daily Mail: “People smugglers are ruthless, treating migrants as a commodity, and they do not care about the safety of those they transport. We have seen this, tragically, in recent and historical mass fatalities.”
While it has stopped us roundly in our tracks to have to come to the defence of Patel, whose immigration policy is at least controversial - to put it mildly - misinformation should be curbed at every opportunity, even if it has led to some funny tweets comparing her to Harry Potter villain Dolores Umbridge.
We have contacted the Home Office to see if they have anything to add on the matter.