A fantasist whose lies about being raped by an Asian grooming gang drove three men to the brink of suicide and sparked far-right protests was raised by ‘good hearted, decent people’ including a local children’s champion, neighbours told MailOnline.
Eleanor Williams, 22, was brought up in a large stone-built semi by her mother, Allison Johnston, and her stepfather. She has an elder sister, Lucy, and a brother – who both doted on their younger sibling.
The family home is on a quiet street on Walney Island, just off Barrow-in-Furness, where houses sell for up to £315,000 – double the average for the area – and to neighbours they seemed an ‘entirely normal family’.
But any impression of normality collapsed yesterday as Williams was jailed for eight and a half years for perverting the course of justice – having claimed to be a victim of sex trafficking.
Her lies – which began in a Facebook post where she shared graphic photos of her self-inflicted injuries – would see five men accused of rape despite being totally innocent.
Eleanor Williams, 22, was brought up in a large stone-built semi by her mother Allison Johnston and stepfather
Williams’ mother, former local Labour councillor Allison Johnston, and sister, Lucy
Williams’ grandmother, Anne Burns, is a Labour stalwart in the town – representing the town’s Hindpool ward on Cumbria County Council and serving as cabinet member for children’s services.
She has also been a ‘looked after children champion’ for the Barrow area and part of the town’s community safety partnership.
Her mother Allison, 51, was also seen as a pillar of the local community before she was suspended as a Labour councillor for comments she made after her daughter’s conviction.
A former neighbour on Walney Island told MailOnline: ‘Anne and Allison are community minded people who put everything into representing the town and are both good hearted, decent people.
‘There was nothing strange or unusual about Eleanor’s upbringing, she came from a nice and entirely normal family home. It makes what’s happened all the more astonishing.’
While Williams’ was exposed at her trial for lying about being raped and abused before battering her own face with a hammer to fake her injuries, Allison continues to publicly back her and insist she has been telling the truth.
She has still not paid back £22,000 that wellwishers donated to her daughter’s ‘fight for justice’ after she first aired her allegations – prompting widespread fury.
Lucy, like her mother, also remains insistent that something happened to her sister despite the conviction.
Allison told Mailonline in January 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 and is designed to identify and protect victims of trafficking modern slavery.
Allison 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.
Their family home is on a quiet street on Walney Island, just off Barrow-in-Furness, where houses sell for up to £315,000 – double the average for the area
‘But to us, her family, it says she was telling the truth, that she was a victim 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 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.
‘There is so much people still don’t know about Ellie and what she has been through, they would think differently if they knew.’
Lucy Williams has also publicly backed her sister.
Describing one particular evening she spent with her sister, she told Sky News: ‘A man was harassing Ellie at a bar and some of our friends had seen it and they’d warned him off.
‘And there was a takeaway around the corner from the nightclub, and Ellie was coming home that night with me. He grabbed her outside of the takeaway and started pulling her arm, saying: ”Come on, we’re going”.
‘And she was like: ”No, I’m going with my sister”, and his face, he was so angry with her. She did come home with me, and then the next weekend she came back black and blue, worse than we’ve ever seen.’
Williams sparked outrage after gruesome images of her bruised face and fake claims of abuse by an Asian grooming gang sparked far-right protests
Williams sparked outrage after gruesome images of her bruised face and claims of abuse from a violent Asian group went viral.
Yet, as she was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years yesterday, her full deviousness was revealed as CCTV showed her buying the hammer with which she would hit herself in the face to cause the injuries.
When she first made her claims in Barrow-in-Furness, public demonstrations were held in the Cumbrian town and businesses were daubed with racist abuse.
One man was locked up for ten weeks after she accused him of rape, while another faced lurid allegations that he made her work at a brothel in Amsterdam before selling her to another pimp.
Supporters of the Labour councillor’s daughter raised more than £20,000 through a social media campaign after the post was unwittingly shared by celebrities including Countdown presenter Rachel Riley.
But police had become suspicious of her story after discovering she had set up fake Snapchat accounts and sent messages to herself.
Jailing her, the Honorary Recorder of Preston Judge Robert Altham told Williams her lies risked deterring ‘genuine victims’ from going to police fearing they would ‘not be believed’.
Falsely accused: Mohammed Ramzan and Jordan Trengrove – who were both totally innocent
What remains a mystery is her motive, with Mr Altham saying there was ‘no explanation’ for her actions.
He said she was not racially motivated and chose to accuse Asian as well as white men to copy ‘other cases of national prominence’.
Even so, her claims spread like wildfire among the far-right, with Tommy Robinson – founder of the far-Right English Defence League – coming to Barrow to ‘investigate’.
When police instead charged Williams, outraged supporters took part in demonstrations and Asian-owned businesses were attacked.
But her trial heard the Snapchat account which Williams claimed was that of an Asian trafficker belonged in reality to a Tesco worker from Essex who had never met her.
She claimed restaurateur Mohammed Ramzan had groomed her for sex from the age of 12, even selling her at auction for 25,000 euros (£22,000) after making her work at a brothel in Amsterdam.
Williams at a Tesco in Barrow buying a hammer that she later used to beat her own face
The fantasist was seen in a hotel in Blackpool at the same time she claimed she had been trafficked
Williams also alleged he had threatened to throw her in the sea during a ‘horrific’ trip to Blackpool during which she was ‘pimped out’ to eight men.
However it emerged that during the alleged Amsterdam trip, Mr Ramzan had in fact been shopping at his local B&Q.
Meanwhile on the night of her alleged ordeal in the seaside town she instead stayed alone in a hotel after buying a Pot Noodle and spent the evening watching YouTube on her phone.
Williams was found guilty of eight counts of perverting the course of justice.
She pleaded guilty to a ninth count at an earlier hearing.
In the letter to the judge read in court yesterday, Williams said she would never have written her post had she known ‘what consequences would have come’.
Vile rape allegations Williams made against five men
A woman who made false rape allegations against five men gave accounts of being trafficked in Ibiza and sold at auction in Amsterdam.
Eleanor Williams, 22, was jailed on Tuesday for perverting the course of justice after making claims including that she was the victim of an Asian grooming gang, operating in her hometown of Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.
Below are some of the lies Williams told.
The first claim
The first false allegation was made by Williams when she was 16.
Preston Crown Court heard she had been with others at Cameron Bibby’s house in November 2017 when she was sick after drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis.
Mr Bibby and his friends contacted Williams’ sister and mother, who came to collect her and later took her to hospital, where she alleged she had been raped.
Williams withdrew support from a prosecution in January 2018, after Mr Bibby had been arrested.
In March 2019 Williams had been on a night out with Jordan Trengove when she was taken home after becoming intoxicated.
She would later allege Mr Trengove raped her that night, and then on two later occasions, claiming he came to her flat, attacked her and threatened her with a knife.
The court heard she did have injuries following the alleged attack.
Honorary Recorder of Preston Judge Robert Altham said: ‘She caused them to herself to support her allegations. As we will see this was to become a feature of her conduct.’
Williams claimed she had been groomed since the age of 12 or 13 by local business owner Mohammed Ramzan, who she falsely claimed took her across the region and persuaded her to have sex with other men.
She described punishment beatings, rape, a girl nearly dying as a result of a beating and another having a dog set on her.
Honorary Recorder of Preston Judge Robert Altham said: ‘This was a detailed account of the most serious sort of sex trafficking.’
Williams told police she had been taken to Amsterdam by Mr Ramzan, forced to work in a brothel and sold at an auction for 25,000 Euros, but the buyer did not go through with the deal.
During the trial, Jonathan Sandiford KC compared the account to a scene from the Liam Neeson film Taken, in which an ex-Secret Service agent’s teenage daughter is abducted by human traffickers.
Preston Crown Court heard Williams had been in Amsterdam, but had shared a hotel room with her sister and sister’s boyfriend.
At the time Williams was in the Netherlands, Mr Ramzan’s bank card was being used at a B&Q in Barrow, police discovered.
Williams said she was taken to Ibiza by Mr Ramzan and made to have sex with men.
She admitted this was not true when officers suggested they check flight documents, but at trial she maintained the allegation.
When police investigated Williams’ account of being taken to addresses in Blackpool and forced to have sex with men, they found she had gone to the seaside resort alone and, after buying a Pot Noodle from a nearby shop, spent most of her time in her hotel room watching YouTube.
After a chance encounter with Oliver Gardner in Preston city centre, Williams initially claimed he was a trafficker who forced her to take cocaine, sold her to two Asian men and raped her.
Judge Altham said: ‘This was a complete fabrication, much of it would be disproved from CCTV.’
In what the prosecution called her ‘finale event’, in May 2020 Williams was found by police with injuries including a swollen eye, cut finger and injuries to her legs and abdomen which were ‘too numerous to count’.
She would later post pictures of the injuries on Facebook with a description of being beaten, groomed and trafficked by Asian men.
But, evidence from a pathologist found the injuries were consistent with being caused to herself.
A hammer found at the scene had her DNA on and was identical to one she had purchased from Tesco earlier in the month.