Not a do-gooder.
A law firm specialising in immigration has claimed that Priti Patel's demonisation of lawyers resulted in a knife-wielding maniac attacking and wounding one of its employees.
A 28-year-old man armed with a large knife "designed to cause serious harm" entered the firm, which has not been named for security reasons, on September 7 and "assaulted and wounded" a receptionist in a "violent, racist attack".
The man was allegedly found to be carrying a bag containing far-right literature and a confederate flag.
Four days earlier, the Home Secretary had made comments on social media in which she accused "activist lawyers" of frustrating efforts to remove migrants, echoing a Home Office campaign which repeated the claim, and which the firm said led directly to the attack.
In documents provided to the police, it said that "responsibility and accountability for this attack, in the eyes of this firm, lies squarely at the feet of Priti Patel.”
The firm asked the Law Society to seek a retraction from Patel and an "apology or acknowledgment" that her rhetoric was inappropriate. "It must be ensured that no further lives are endangered as a result of her untruthful and deliberately inflammatory rhetoric", said the firm in its letter. "Put simply, this must stop now, before innocent lives are taken and other irreparable damage is done to those who work in this field”.
The Law Society wrote to Patel about the attack, but would not divulge the text, which appears to have had less than zero effect on the politicians. In October, Patel stepped up on her attacks on immigration and human rights lawyers, denigrating them as "do-gooders", bracketing them with people traffickers, and accusing those who acted for asylum seekers as "defending the indefensible".
Boris Johnson took the baton for his keynote speech at the Conservative party conference and thumped the legal profession even more with it, claiming that the criminal justice system was “being hamstrung by lefty human rights lawyers”.
The handful of immigration firms contacted by RollOnFriday said they had not experienced any direct negativity from the public to warrant security measures.
But they did warn of other pernicious effects. Fadi Farhat, the Head of Appeals and Public Law at Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors, said that the Syrians and Libyans which had consulted his firm in the last six weeks "all declined the very viable options of claiming asylum or humanitarian protection" and had instead sought to apply under "various business routes".
"Each and every one of them said that they feel that there is so much stigma associated with claiming asylum and that they do not want to be associated as 'low class' or 'uneducated' and they do not want to be seen as a 'burden'”, said Farhat. "All have cited Home Office rhetoric as a factor for this impression".
"This is absolutely bewildering", said Farhat, "and it is immensely disappointing that we are left in a situation where young students who cannot return to their countries of origin through no fault of their own are giving up the chance or otherwise hesitant to seek international protection (a right under international law) because they feel that they would be a burden".
Farhat said his firm was concerned that a consequence of the government's rhetoric was the creation of "a unique feeling of self-resentment amongst some prospective asylum seekers who see asylum (a right which we should all value in a volatile world) as carrying an unpleasant stench to their identity and self-worth".