Riot police called to protests outside asylum-seeker hotel

Far-right protesters outside a Merseyside asylum seeker hotel have reportedly lobbed missiles and set a police van on fire.

Dozens of people this evening unleashed mayhem outside the Knowsley Suites Hotel, which is thought to be used to temporarily house asylum seekers.

Footage appeared to show a parked police van vandalised with graffiti before being engulfed by flames as officers and rioters clash on Ribblers Lane.

Merseyside Police said Preston officers arrived at a ‘peaceful protest and counter protest’ at around 6:30pm.

It’s understood a number of far-right groups were involved in organising the rally.

A police spokesperson said: Officers were facilitating an initially peaceful protest and counter-protest on Ribblers Lane.

‘During the evening, missiles have reportedly been thrown and damage caused to a police vehicle. No injuries have been reported at this time.

‘Additional officers are in the area to deal with these incidents.’

Knowsley Labour MP George Howarth criticised the chaotic scenes on Twitter.

‘I have referred an alleged incident posted on social media, which has triggered a demonstration outside the Suites Hotel, to Merseyside Police and Knowsley Council,’ he said.

‘Until the police have investigated the matter, it is too soon to jump to conclusions and the effort on the part of some to inflame the situation is emphatically wrong.

‘If an offence has been committed, the police should deal with it appropriately through due process.

‘In addition, the misinformation about refugees being feather-bedded is untrue and intended to paint a picture that does not at all represent the facts.

‘The people of Knowsley are not bigots and are welcoming to people escaping from some of the most dangerous places in the world in search of a place of safety.’

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