NEWS
31/10/2017 16:25 GMT | Updated 31/10/2017 16:39 GMT

London Photo Of George Papadopoulos Was Taken At Least Four Years Ago

There was speculation image showed he was in London to conduct an undercover probe.

An ex-Donald Trump aide who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about “dirt” he was offered on Hillary Clinton, has been at the centre of speculation over a picture recently posted to Twitter suggesting he was in London only six days ago.

It was announced on Monday that George Papadopoulos admitted the charge on October 5 as Special Counsel Robert Mueller steps up his investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia.

Papadopoulos is the third adviser to Trump’s campaign to face criminal charges in the FBI investigation after Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, and his associate, Rick Gates, surrendered on Monday morning.

Journalists rushed to what purports to be his Twitter account and found a photo of Papadopoulos in a suit and Aviator shades outside Harrods department store in the capital, tweeted on October 25.

The photo, posted on the unverified account, triggered speculation Papadopoulos had travelled to the UK despite restrictions the FBI would have imposed upon him during the trial. 

After his arrest at Dulles Airport on July 27, Papadopoulos had to surrender his passport and his travel was restricted to to Illinois, where he is originally from, Virginia and Washington DC.

There was also speculation he was on FBI business, given court documents reveal he is “pro-actively co-operating” with their investigation after striking a plea deal.

The claims were fuelled in part by the claim made by journalist and academic Seth Abramson that Papadopoulos “wore a wire” after his arrest to help the FBI catch others. 

The @GeorgePapa19 account, which has only posted seven times, doesn’t carry Twitter’s blue tick, which would confirm it did indeed belong to Papadopoulos.

And it was a picture, posted on that account last week, which sparked the suggestion Papadopoulos was in London.

But startling differences between the snap and the same scene, documented by HuffPost UK outside Harrods in Knightsbridge on Tuesday, show the picture to be at least four years old.

Differences in store fronts reveal the photo cannot have been taken last week.

The co-owner of the Heart Of London souvenir shop told HuffPost that the business moved into a previously vacant unit at the end of 2013, with the signage seen today, below, in situ by early 2014. The co-owner declined to be named in this article.

The sign itself is distinctive, designed to draw the attention of the thousands who pass by each day. It showed tell-tale signs of having been in place for a while - a thick coat of black dust covered the 3D lettering.

Twitter/HuffPost UK
Spot the difference: tell-tale signs the image tweeted last week is in fact many years old.

Click here for a hi-res zoomable version of this image.

Spot the difference

1. The Heart Of London souvenir shop sign was installed between late 2013 and early 2014, according to a co-owner of the business. It is not seen in the picture posted last week.

2. Flower boxes attached to a first-floor apartment are not seen in the photo posted last week.

3. The building in the background of the picture posted last week is now supported by steel girders, which have been in situ for at least several weeks.

4. A crane seen today in the top-right of the same scene has been present for at least several weeks.

5. Stickers attached to a lamp post in the picture posted last week were not there when HuffPost visited the spot on Tuesday.

6. A cafe shown in the photo posted last week with a garish red colour scheme is seen today painted Robin egg blue. A staff member told HuffPost the re-design happened three or four months ago.

George Bowden/HuffPost UK
The scene today: How the same frame appeared on Brompton Road, London, near Harrods, on Tuesday.

Click here for a hi-res zoomable version of this image.

Three doors along the parade of stores is the Richoux restaurant and tearoom, pictured with a garish red colour scheme in the snap posted last week.

But an employee who did not have permission to speak to the press nonetheless told HuffPost that a re-design changed the cafe’s facade to Robin egg blue three or four months ago.

Twitter/HuffPost UK
The Richoux cafe pictured in Papadopoulos' snap, left, and on Tuesday, right. Its colour scheme is now Robin egg blue, not garish red.

Further down the Brompton Road, a building currently supported by steel girders is pictured standing solo in the Papadopoulos picture.

And a towering construction crane seen today in the distance is also absent from last week’s picture.

Both sets of construction work have been ongoing for at least several weeks, according to public records.

George Bowden/HuffPost UK
The Heart Of London souvenir shop has a distinctive black and white facade, not seen in Papadopoulos' picture.

While at the world-famous Harrods department store, door staff confirmed to HuffPost that Christmas decorations were assembled on its lengthy facade overnight on Sunday.

They confirmed that flags lining the store are changed frequently. “There is no schedule [for the changes],” one guard said.

The picture was also used with a Romanian article published in September 2016

HotNewsro

Papadopoulos is an international energy lawyer who is a 2009 graduate of DePaul University in Chicago, before moving to London to get a master’s degree in security studies, The Washington Post reports.

He is currently an oil, gas and policy consultant, according to his LinkedIn page.

HuffPost UK has contacted Papadopoulos’ lawyer for comment but has yet to receive a response.