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Eleanor Williams is a British woman who, in 2023 at the age of 22, was sentenced and imprisoned for 8.5 years for "perverting the course of justice". Based in the North of England in Cumbria, UK, Williams lied over a prolonged period from 2017 (age 17) to 2023 (age 22) about being the victim of multiple rapes, and had been "trafficked" around and outside the country by a fictitious "Asian grooming gang" that also subjected her to beatings and rapes, drugged her, blackmailed her and threatened her with weapons. She made multiple false rape allegations on social media against specific, named individuals, leading to multiple men being harassed online and having their properties vandalized; in one case being arrested, and in 3 cases, bringing them to attempt suicide.
Williams went to great lengths to fabricate evidence to support her claims, beating herself with a hammer, cutting herself with knives, daggers, and a machete, after which graphic photos of the cuts and bruises were posted to social media. She was covered in bruises, including a black eye and a severed finger, while her posts used emotionally manipulative language designed to elicit sympathy and suppress questioning of her extraordinary claims – e.g. "This is the hardest post I’m ever going to write." Williams created fake social media accounts and messaged herself to make it appear that she was in multiple abusive sexual relationships with Asian men. She claimed she was forced to have sex with multiple men in one night in Blackpool, but CCTV footage proved she had been shopping and spent the night alone in her hotel room. Before her arrest, trial and exposure, she became a focal point in British right-wing discourse about alleged "Asian grooming gangs", and a popular campaign called 'Justice for Ellie' garnered over 100,00 Facebook members, with protestors taking to the streets in her usually peaceful hometown of Barrow-in-Furness, under the the false belief that the police weren't adequately handling the case. The anti-immigrant populist Tommy Robinson supported her cause, and locals in the town harassed journalists and police who they believed were poorly investigating the case.
The men falsely accused
There are 3 men named in media articles who were targeted by others due to being falsely accused of various physical assault and sexual offences by Williams. A young Caucasian male, Jordan Trengove, was falsely accused of rape and spent over 2 months (73 days) in prison custody, where he shared a cell with a convicted sex offender. The stigma and harassment Trengove faced led him to attempt to kill himself. While in court, Trengove said he had the word "rapist" spray painted across his house.
A local middle-aged Asian business owner, Mohammed Ramzan, was accused of rape by Williams, and said during a hearing at Preston Crown Court that the lies had made his life "hell on earth". He feared for the safety of his partner and children, and two weeks after his initial arrest, attempted to kill himself. "I still bear the scars to this day," he said. His property was damaged and his businesses had been "ruined" as a result of him being targeted. "I have had countless death threats made over social media from people all over the world because of what they thought I was involved in," he said. According to Sky News, businesses named in Williams' posts had their "windows smashed" and "fire alarms had to be installed at vulnerable premises." These two men have appeared on news media to discuss their ordeal.
A third man accused of rape by Williams, Oliver Gardner, said he only met her once and so it was a "shock" when he was contacted by Cumbria Police. "It was just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time," he said of the allegations that ultimately led to him being sectioned under the Mental Health Act after he tried to take his own life. Cameron Bibby, the first man accused of rape by Williams, revealed he'd been forced to delete social media and was too afraid to pick his son up from nursery due to the online abuse he suffered.
The impact of groomer lies
As one publication described:
Williams' story of being forced to work in an Amsterdam brothel was disproven when evidence (phone and bank records) shown in court, revealed that the man she accused of forcing her into this was actually shopping in B&Q in the UK at the time that he and Williams were supposedly overseas. This lead police to liken her claims about being trafficked to Amsterdam to the plot of the movie, Taken.
Another claim that was shown to have been made up was that Williams had been raped after boarding a train to Blackpool. In reality, Williams had booked herself into a hotel alone and was watching YouTube videos at the time of the alleged attack.
Williams initially stood by her innocence in court, but said she was sorry for the damage her Facebook posts had caused in her local area – hate crimes tripled in Barrow-in-Furness over the summer of 2020 and Cumbria Police recorded 151 crimes linked to the case, including malicious communications, harassment and criminal damage to the properties of those accused of wrongdoing.
But, as the holes in Williams' story grew, she made an apology. "I know I've made some mistakes and I am sorry," a letter read out by her legal team stated. "I was young and confused. I'm not saying I am guilty but I know I have done some wrong and so I'm sorry."
The case was widely publicized in British media, with the BBC publishing an article aptly titled Eleanor Williams: The grooming gang lies that sparked outrage. Parts of sentencing in court were broadcast online. A video covering the case can be found on YouTube.