Akhmed Yakoob apologises after naming and shaming teacher in false 'racist' video

Independent candidate Akhmed Yakoob at Birmingham's mayoral election count
-Credit: (Image: BirminghamLive)

Independent would-be MP Akhmed Yakoob has said he is sorry about the distress caused to a teacher who he 'named and shamed' for being a 'racist' in a video he promoted to his followers. But we have learned he has still failed to contact her direct, nor posted an apology on his social media channels.

Mr Yakoob claimed he was 'still investigating' how the footage ended up being falsely captioned and then circulated by him on his channels but said he was 'very sorry' for the anguish it caused to the 27 year old teacher and school. He claimed he thought it was genuine but did not clarify what, if any, checks were done before it was uploaded and shared.

On the video, a young woman was shown visiting the home of a resident in Netherton on polling day, May 4, where she asked about his voting intentions. She was a volunteer supporting a teacher colleague, Qasim Mughal, who was later elected as Labour councillor for the ward on Dudley Council.

READ MORE: Solicitors' regulator launches investigation into Akhmed Yakoob over 'false racism' claims

The teacher's subsequent innocent remarks stating 'I couldn't understand' and the number '90' were then misquoted as a racist slur in a video that went viral, reaching an estimated 800,000 people. To her horror, Mr Yakoob also released her name and the school she taught at to his followers on X, formerly Twitter - and as a result she was inundated with abusive messages, including death threats.

Her school, Stuart Bathurst Catholic High School in Wednesbury, was also targeted, with executive principal Richard May pressed to 'sack her'. The teacher, 27, described her ordeal as terrifying. Details of her family, her car registration and other information was circulated.

Speaking to Birmingham Live, Yakoob said he was 'very sorry' for the distress caused to the teacher and would be very keen to meet her in person to share his remorse. He claimed the video had reached him already captioned and that he believed it was accurate, but removed it when he was alerted it was not.

READ MORE: Teacher's 'life blown apart' in onslaught of hate as false racism claim goes viral

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"I am investigating what happened still. That video was shared with me and provided with captions already on it, so the same captions were repeated on my video.

"I do apologise to the teacher, to her colleagues and to the students and the school for the distress this has caused. If permitted I would like to apologise to her in person and visit the school to apologise there."

But Qasim Mughal, the teacher who was with her and who she was supporting, said Yakoob had failed in three weeks to directly reach out to the teacher, despite knowing her name and the school she taught at, nor had he contacted him, despite his details being easily accessible. "No disrespect, but an apology via a journalist doesn't really count for a lot. He was quick to post the video on his social media channels, so it should not take much for him to post a full apology online and confirm to his followers that the video was false and should be removed." He confirmed the teacher involved has also not been contacted.

However, he said he would welcome a conversation with Mr Yakoob should he wish to get in touch. The video was widely condemned and Mr Yakoob slated for sharing the personal details of those involved, initiating a mass pile-on. The move was described as reckless and 'disgraceful', with the woman left traumatised as a result.

West Midlands Police subsequently investigated the original claim of racism and cleared her of any wrongdoing, confirming they had checked the original video and found there had been no racist messages or language. They were not, however, investigating the source of the fake claims nor the abusive messages received.

However, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) confirmed it was investigating. Mr Yakoob received more than 69,000 votes when he stood as a candidate for West Midlands mayor, coming third behind eventual winner Richard Parker (Labour) and runner up Andy Street (Conservative) but ahead of candidates for the Lib Dems, the Greens and Reform UK. He now wants to be the next MP for Birmingham Ladywood, currently held by Labour's shadow justice secretary of state Shabana Mahmood.

Yakoob's next target - Shabana Mahmood

Speaking about Rishi Sunak's decision to call the General Election, Mr Yakoob said it had come as a shock as he believed a summer election had been ruled out but he would 'be ready' to stand, especially as he was already caught up in 'campaign fever'. "At this moment I am contesting Ladywood as an Independent. There are other Independents standing and we are loosely connected, but it is informal.

"I am ready to take on Shabana Mahmood. I was due to go on holiday this week but have cancelled it. I enjoy challenges and I think the voters will put me in post; I think I am the favourite."

Mr Yakoob's campaign focusses on Gaza and allegations that the mainstream parties have not done enough to press for a ceasefire and an end to arms sales to Israel. He also claims that inner city Birmingham areas have been long neglected by the Conservative government and the Labour led council.

A still from the viral video and, right, Akhmed Yakoob promoting it to his followers on TikTok
A still from the viral video and, right, Akhmed Yakoob promoting it to his followers on TikTok -Credit:No credit

He has faced questions about his views on women and homosexuality, following comments made in video podcasts and on social media. He recently spoke up in favour of his political ally George Galloway after the MP for Rochdale had been criticised for referring to same sex couples as 'not normal' - a view that triggered a backlash.

Asked about those comments, Mr Yakoob said Galloway should have referred to such relationships as 'not typical' rather than 'not normal'. He said he had 'personal views driven by religious ethics' but believed that public space 'needs both a pluralistic and an inclusive approach, as set out in the Equality Act 2010.'

Also standing in Birmingham Ladywood so far are: Lee Dargue (Lib Dems), Zoe Challenor (Green Party) and Irene Henery (Reform UK).