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Mother of rape fantasist ‘refuses to return £21k raised for justice fund’

By Mark Hookham and Andrew Chamberlain

A LABOUR councillor whose daughter was jailed for lying about being raped by an Asian gang has failed to return £21,000 donated by duped well-wishers, it was claimed last night.

More than 1,000 people contributed to an appeal for Eleanor Williams after she claimed she was trafficked and abused by an Asian gang in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. She also accused a number of white men of raping her.

The money was to pay for legal fees to bring her abusers to justice, but last week the 22-year-old was jailed for eight-and-a-half years after being exposed as a fantasist and convicted of perverting the course of justice.

Three men who she falsely accused of rape tried to kill themselves as a result of her lies. Now Shane Yerrell, the fundraiser who organised the appeal, has said that he transferred £21,104 to Ms Williams’ mother Allison Johnston. Despite her daughter being convicted in January, he says she has still not returned it.

Mr Yerrell, a Tory councillor in Essex, vowed to launch legal proceedings to retrieve the money, which he said should be donated to charity.

He said: ‘There is no grooming gang, so the money can never be spent on what it was meant to be spent on.’

Ms Johnston, a councillor on Barrow Borough Council, was suspended by the Labour Party in January after Williams’s conviction.

Mr Yerrell has revealed how he contacted Ms Johnston and urged her to release £3,000 of the cash so it could be donated to a family who wanted to take their terminally-ill three-yearold daughter to Lapland. Ms Johnston ‘ignored’ the message, he claimed, so he decided to appeal directly to her in an interview posted on YouTube.

In the video, he said: ‘As a mother you should put yourself in that little girl’s mother’s situation... I think it’s disgusting to hold on to [the money].’

The ‘Get Justice for Ellie’ appeal raised £22,129 in 2020, but this was reduced to £21,104 after fees taken by the JustGiving fundraising website. Under a deal drawn up by Mr Yerrell, the money was to be split between two charities if no prosecution was brought against Williams’ supposed abusers.

After her conviction, both charities – the Maggie Oliver Foundation and Women’s Community Matters – declined the cash. Mr Yerrell said he has lined up two other charities to donate the money to.

Ms Johnston last week declined to comment. In January she told the Guardian that she still had the money.

Williams falsely claimed she had been trafficked and horrifically abused by an Asian gang in May 2020, in a 1,300-word account posted on Facebook, She posted harrowing photos of injuries which she claimed were caused by brutal physical abuse – but which she had actually inflicted on herself with a claw hammer.

Her post, which was shared more than 100,000 times, sparked far-Right demonstrations and death threats against local Asian men.

One man who ran an Indian restaurant in the town told how the windows of his business were smashed and people regularly hurled abuse at him in the street. ‘I had calls saying that they were going to rape my wife in front [of] my children, then kill me, and kill my kids,’ he told the BBC.

Williams had already made a slew of false rape claims dating back to 2017. One victim, Jordan Trengrove, told how he spent 73 days in jail, sharing a cell with a paedophile, after she falsely accused him of rape.

He last week voiced his anger that some of the money had not been given to the family of the terminally ill girl. He said: ‘They were quick enough to accept £22,000. Why can’t they give £3,000 of it and give it to an actual cause?’

Simon Fell, Tory MP for Barrow and Furness, called for the money to be spent on repairing the damage done by Williams’s lies. ‘It would be really good to see these funds go to a good cause that could further community cohesion,’ he said.

‘I think it’s disgusting to hold on to the money’

The Party’s Over




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