A businessman who was ‘close to suicide’ after being falsely accused of leading Asian grooming gang is planning to sue police and the Home Office.
Mohammed Ramzan became the subject of a web of lies when he was named by Eleanor Williams as the main man behind an alleged grooming gang operating out of Barrow-in-Furness. Now the dad-of-four says he will sue the police and the Home Office for the torment he says the investigation caused him.
Williams, 22, concocted the twisted tales of being raped, beaten and trafficked abroad. This week, Williams was jailed for eight-and-a-half years for perverting the course of justice.
Mr Ramzan, known as Mo Rammy to locals, said: “I respect the investigation team but I feel let down by Barrow police. I got more than 500 death threats but nothing was done, we received no help or support.”
He also plans to take legal action against Williams’ mother to recover and return £22,000 given by duped well wishers. He claims Allison Johnston – a local councillor – has ignored calls to return the cash, sent by people horrified at what they thought her daughter had endured.
In an interview with the Mirror, Mo, 43, reveals he and the fund’s creator, Shane Yerrell, lodged a complaint through Mrs Johnston’s bank – and secured almost a third of the money. They have now launched a civil case for the rest. Mo explained: “I said to Shane, ‘We need to get this money back for the people’.
“Shane gave them all the documents and evidence they needed, and £7,158 was refunded to him. The bank said that was all the money that was in the account.”
It is not known what happened to the outstanding £14,000. Mo said: “We’ve launched a civil action against Allison Johnston to get the rest of the money back. If she doesn’t respond we’ll take it to the small claims court.”
In July 2019, Mo, who has a daughter the same age as his accuser, spent 36 hours in custody after being arrested on his way to a cash and carry. Williams had falsely claimed he had groomed her from the age of 12 and subjected her to near-fatal beatings before trafficking her to Amsterdam to be sold at a slave auction for €25,000.
Following the claims, Mo turned his home into a makeshift “incident room” with printouts on the walls of evidence he hoped would help clear him – and was able to prove to police that he was in a B&Q at the time of the “abduction”. In May 2020, Williams had begun her campaign with a 1,300-word post on Facebook claiming she was the victim of an Asian grooming gang. It included shocking images of her having seemingly been attacked and was shared more than 100,000 times by the public, as well as by celebrities.
Three days later, far-right thugs descended on her home town of Barrow stirring up racial tension. Mo said: “It felt like the whole town was against me. I got abuse. There were kids shouting ‘rapist’ and ‘pa*i’ at me, and throwing stones. Friends and their kids were being called ‘pa*i lovers’ and ‘paedo enablers’. I wanted to kill myself and was twice close to suicide.”
Mo is also considering action against celebrities and other public figures who spread Williams’ claims on social media.
He said: “My businesses stopped, no one was going to buy from an ice cream van owned by a man classed as a paedophile. The last four years have felt like a war. I’m now £187,000 in debt. I think I’ve got PTSD, it’s broken me emotionally. I’m always tearing up. I wasn’t like that before.”
Mo’s mum died before seeing him exonerated. Yet he says he has forgiven Williams – and would meet her in jail if she shows remorse. He said: “At one time I would have said I hate her. But I can see she’s just a pawn in all this. There was a grooming gang but it wasn’t Asian men – the far-right groomed her. I hope she gets help in jail. As a father, I think she deserves a chance.”
Cumbria Police acknowledged the impact of the case but said claims of abuse had to be investigated thoroughly. They said: “Those she made allegations against were arrested and interviewed. We have provided support or signposted individuals to partner agencies and maintained contact with those falsely accused. The fallout led directly to hate crime against members of the Asian community, these were investigated.”
Allison Johnston was approached for comment by the Mirror.