EXCLUSIVE: Mother of 'fantasist' says child was the 'victim' of abuse

EXCLUSIVE: ‘I believe my daughter’: Labour councillor mother of ‘fantasist’, 22, whose false claims she was raped by an ‘Asian grooming gang’ sparked a wave of Islamophobia insists child was the ‘victim of abuse and trafficking’

  • Eleanor Williams lied about being raped and trafficked by grooming gang 
  • She accused businessman Mohammed Ramzan of running the group
  • Her mother, Allison Johnston, stands by her daughter’s claims 

The mother of a ‘fantasist’ woman whose false claims of being raped by an ‘Asian grooming gang’ sparked a wave of Islamophobia, has said she stands by her daughter.

Eleanor Williams, 22, was convicted of nine counts of perverting the course of justice over multiple rape claims and a baseless account of being trafficked by Asian men from Barrow-in-Furness.

Her claims caused uproar in the area, where a significant section of the community believed her and attacked local Asian businesses, while far-right elements stoked the flames further.

But as Williams now faces a substantial jail term following her conviction at Preston Crown Court this week, her mother Allison Johnston, a 51-year-old Labour councillor in Barrow, insisted to MailOnline: ‘I believe my daughter.’

Allison Johnston, a 51-year-old Labour councillor in Barrow (pictured), insisted her daughter, Eleanor Williams was a victim of assault and trafficking 

The court heard that to back up her false claims, Williams posted pictures on Facebook of horrific injuries to her face and body, including the word ‘rat’ carved across her stomach.

Jurors found she had caused the injuries herself, using weapons including a 10lb hammer.

The prosecution compared part of her evidence, of being ‘sold’ at an auction in Amsterdam, as like a scene from the Liam Neeson film Taken.

Restaurant owner Mohammed Ramzan, whom Williams claimed had groomed her from the age of 12, was arrested over her lies and said he and his family received more than 500 death threats. 

He branded her ‘delusional’ and a ‘fantasist’ in court.

Mrs Johnston said: ‘But to us, her family, it says she was telling the truth, that she was a victim in the way that she claimed to be and as her mother I believe her’

Mr Ramzan, who was investigated for three weeks without charge and said he had former EDL leader Tommy Robinson turning up on his doorstep, said he was driven to the brink of suicide by the claims.

But despite the convictions and the misery caused to her victims, Williams’ mother says she stands by most of her daughter’s claims.

And she claimed to MailOnline that Williams had been the subject of a National Referral Mechanism (NRM) order which claimed she had been trafficked for sexual purposes from the age of 12.

The NRM was introduced in 2009 following the signing of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.

It was designed to identify and protect victims of modern slavery and human trafficking.

Mrs Johnston said: ‘The order says Ellie was a victim of exploitation and trafficking from the age of 12. Personally I don’t believe that because I think as her mother I would have known something was happening to her at such a young age.

Eleanor Williams (pictured) , 22, was convicted of nine counts of perverting the course of justice over multiple rape claims and a baseless account of being trafficked by Asian men

‘But to us, her family, it says she was telling the truth, that she was a victim in the way that she claimed to be and as her mother I believe her.

‘There were some things she claimed that I do believe were not true, there were parts of it that she made up.

‘But I do believe that substantially she was telling the truth and she was the victim of abuse and trafficking.

‘I also don’t believe that Ellie inflicted those injuries on herself, she couldn’t have caused them. Her throat was cut, her finger and ear were cut, she had ‘rat’ carved on her stomach.

The Asian grooming gang lies that sparked national outrage – click here to read more 

‘There is so much people still don’t know about Ellie and what she has been through, they would think differently if they knew.’

Mrs Johnston said: ‘She was supposed to go to visit a women’s service but instead bought pills and was found in a multi-storey car park.

‘The court process began in 2019 and is still to come to an end, it’s been such a long and worrying time for Ellie and the family.’

Williams left the family’s large stone-built semi-detached house on Walney Island in 2019 and moved into a block of flats in Barrow.

Her mother said she was frantically worried about her daughter and in the space of seven months she reported her missing 32 times.

Mrs Johnston would drive into Barrow to look for her then 18-year-old daughter and check whether the light was on in her flat.

She said she felt Williams was vulnerable and feared at that time she was being exploited.

Williams’ claims ruined the lives of the men she accused.

Among them was businessman Mr Ramzan, who Williams claimed was instrumental in trafficking her to parties across the north of England and in Amsterdam and Ibiza where she was raped.

At the time she said he was selling her for sex in Amsterdam, bank card records proved he was at B&Q in Barrow.

She claimed restaurateur Mohammed Ramzan (pictured) had trafficked her since the age of 12 and threatened to kill her. Mr Ramzan denied ever having any contact with Williams

Mr Ramzan said: ‘It absolutely ruined me to the point where I smashed a bottle on my head. I wanted to kill myself because of the damage it did. The reputation I’d made was ruined. My neighbours turned on me. People dropped me. I lived in hell.’

Williams was 19 when she made her incendiary claims in a Facebook post which wasshared more than 100,000 times, unleashing a wave of Islamophobia in Barrow.

It sparked the creation of a group called ‘Justice for Ellie’, which has more than 100,000 members on Facebook.

A JustGiving page set up for her received more than £22,000 in donations, which it claimed would be used for ‘solicitor fees’

People in the town held demonstrations in support – bumper stickers with the words ‘Justice for Ellie’ were sold and became commonplace.

An Indian restaurant had its windows smashed and a Muslim takeaway owner was chased and had alcohol poured over his head.

Mr Ramzan said he was often verbally abused in the street and that the town was ‘a step away from anarchy’.

Far-right figurehead Tommy Robinson visited Barrow to ‘investigate’ the fictitious grooming gang.

Eleanor Williams claimed she was abused by an Asian grooming gang in Barrow, Cumbria 

He said later that after speaking to some of the people Williams had accused he had found ‘conflicting accounts’ about what had happened.

Barrow’s Conservative MP Simon Fell said Williams’ lies had ‘put the town through the wringer.

‘He said ‘vultures’ began to ‘circle’ the town including ‘insidious’ far-right activists ‘whipping up tensions’.

Mr Fell said he was also visited by families of those Williams falsely accused who said their lives had been ‘torn apart’ and other Asian constituents who ‘feared for their and their children’s safety due to the colour of their skin’.

He said: ‘People’s lives have been ruined as a result of her stories, and Barrow has been put through the wringer.

‘One man spent time in prison due to her allegations. Others saw their windows put in. Or received death threats. Others still left town and have not returned. And trust in the police has been shaken.’

Mr Fell said there were ‘so many victims in this story’ not least the ‘real victims of grooming’, adding: ‘Her story cannot and must not be a barrier to people asking for help and coming forward.’

The MP said he hoped Williams would now get ‘the help she needs’ as she was ‘deeply unwell’, adding he wanted Barrow to ‘begin to heal, learn lessons that will better protect genuine victims, and look to a brighter future’.

Williams faces a substantial jail term following her conviction at Preston Crown Court this week

Four other men apart from Mr Ramzan were named in the indictment as being falsely accused by Williams…

Jordan Trengove, 22, was accused of three rapes by Williams.On one occasion, at the time she accused him of rape, he was in the back of a Cumbria Police van following an altercation. 

Jordan was locked up for 10 weeks in Preston Prison’s sex offender wing before her lies were unravelled and he was released

.Cameron Bibby, 22, was accused of drugging and raping Williams at a gathering at his home in Barrow.

In fact Williams was so drunk Cameron contacted her sister to ask her to take her home. 

He was arrested and remained on bail for six months before the police dropped charges against him.

Oliver Gardner was accused of raping Williams after she met him by chance in Preston while both were on separate nights out.

Williams and Oliver kissed in a side street before exchanging numbers and parting.

Within days she had accused him of being part of a a grooming gang, claiming he sold drugs to vulnerable girls and accused him of rape.

Police launched an investigation into his conduct but it was quickly dropped.

Lee Helm was arrested along with Mr Ramzan in July 2019, accused of trafficking girls, including Williams.

She claimed she and other young girls were trafficked around sex parties in the north of England and in Amsterdam and Ibiza.

Lee suffered the stigma of his arrest but was eventually told no further action would be taken after suspicion swung onto the accuser.

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