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The former British ambassador to the United States was hospitalized after being attacked in a tube station. Police are still investigating the altercation, which left Sir Christopher Meyer bloodied but in stable condition.
Some bloggers have connected the attack with President Donald Trump’s visit the next day and the protests that went alongside it. On July 13, protesters gathered in the city, guiding a large, baby Trump balloon past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Meanwhile, Trump met with Prime Minister Theresa May at a military demonstration.
Earlier that week, Meyer was beaten in the Victoria London Underground Station.
An article, posted on clickbait site Neon Nettle, claimed that Meyer was "savagely beaten to a bloody pulp by a gang of anti-Trump protestors because he ‘welcomed’ the U.S. president to the United Kingdom." This seemed out of line with other reports of the event, which did not mention political motives.
We decided to investigate whether Trump’s visit was tied directly to Meyer’s attack.
A few days before the protests, the Independent published an editorial written by Meyer. That same day, he was attacked.
In the piece, Meyer cautioned protesters against angering Trump.
"Our security and prosperity depend in large measure on keeping our close and long-standing partnership in good working order," he writes.
Meyer argued that in spite of Trump pulling the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris agreement on climate change, engaging with the president and maintaining close ties between the countries is imperative.
Neon Nettle hypothesized that this show of support was enough to rile up "a gang of anti-Trump protestors."
Meyer’s wife told The Times that she suspected the attack was politically motivated: "He is opinionated, and sometimes people have different opinions."
However, London police said it is more likely that Meyer’s assailants wanted to rob him. There has been no evidence released thus far to tie the attack to the protests or to suggest that Meyer was targeted.
The Neon Nettle article says that Meyer was attacked by "a mob of thugs" involved with the protests against Trump. However, only two suspects were arrested: a 15-year-old girl and 16-year-old boy. They were released from custody while the investigation into their involvement continues, according to a press release by the British Transport Police.
Additionally, the attack took place on Wednesday, July 11, two full days before the official protests and a day before Trump arrived in the country.
The Neon Nettle also alleges that "violent riots" have occurred throughout London in response to Trump’s visit. While there were massive protests against Trump in the capital, there were few news reports of violence. In a single altercation outside of a pub, one man was arrested for hitting a Trump supporter.
There has been no evidence released linking the attack of a former ambassador to Trump’s visit to the United Kingdom.
Meyer was beaten by two teenagers, not a "gang of anti-Trump protestors," as Neon Nettle alleges. The protests against Trump, which took place two days after the attack, were relatively uneventful as far as violence goes.
Because police are still investigating the incident, we cannot conclusively say that it was not motivated by politics. However, for that same reason, Neon Nettle goes too far to say that it was. Further, it is an overstatement to say that the anti-Trump protests were "violent riots." Our ruling is Mostly False.
Neon Nettle, "British politician beaten by protestors for 'welcoming Trump to the UK," July 13, 2018
The Independent, "As the former ambassador to the US, believe me when I say we should care what Trump thinks on his visit to London," July 11, 2018
Evening Standard, "Sir Christopher Meyer attack: Former British ambassador brutally beaten by thugs at Victoria Station," July 13, 2018
Evening Standard, "Donald Trump UK visit itinerary," July 13, 2018
Fox News, "In London, pro-Trump counter-protesters hit with abuse, some violence," July 13, 2018
Press Release from the British Transport Police, July 12, 2018
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