Head teacher's 'horror' as school 'bombarded with abuse' over fake racism video

The head teacher of a school at the centre of a fake racism video has spoken for the first time about the 'horror' ordeal that has 'devastated' a beloved teacher. Richard May, executive principal at Stuart Bathurst Catholic High School, in Wednesbury, described it as "the worst experience of my 24-year career" - but said it was nothing compared to the impact on the young teacher at the centre of the attack.

She received abuse and death threats and he was urged to 'sack her immediately' as false allegations swirled that she had made racist comments while out supporting a local election Labour candidate and teaching colleague, Qasim Mughal.

The pile-on occurred in the wake of a widely-shared video that went viral on Bank Holiday Monday, promoted heavily by failed West Midlands mayor candidate Akhmed Yakoob. It was shot on a camera fixed above the door of a house in the Netherton and Holly Hall ward in Dudley, triggered by a Ring doorbell.

READ MORE: Police confirm 'no racist slurs or language' in viral video that 'made teacher's life hell'

It was later posted on a local Whatsapp group and captioned with what turned out to be false words, comprising a three-word racist slur. It was heavily promoted and circulated by Mr Yakoob to his 194,000-strong TikTok following and on Instagram, X and Facebook.

He referred to it as racist and later personally named the young woman and her school to his multitude of followers. There was an instant impact, said Mr May.

"The school email and telephones lines were bombarded with abuse. These included death threats, appalling language, threats of violence and an expectation that the teacher should be sacked immediately. These emails, telephone calls and social media messages were horrific - there were over 800 in total," he said.

"Even members of our own community became embroiled in the barrage, which looking back is really disappointing," he said.

In a letter to students, parents and the community explaining how the ordeal has unfolded, he said he became aware of it late on Bank Holiday Monday. "I was confused, I was angry, but most importantly I never doubted my colleague's version of events," he said.

Teachers from the school were out showing their support for associate assistant principal Qasim Mughal, standing in the Dudley Council local elections, he said. In the wake of the video, despite backing his staff, Mr May said he instigated an impartial investigation overseen by the school leaders and the St John Bosco Multi Academy leadership team, assisted by West Midlands Police.

The teacher has now been completely exonerated. In a statement West Midlands Police said officers had examined the original video and found 'no evidence of racist language or sIurs.'

Said Mr May: "I am sat here now reflecting on events. I can’t and won’t blame people for falling for the manipulated social media post and the clever juxtaposition of the false captions. We have all seen the dangers of social media this week and how quickly people can unfortunately jump to the wrong conclusions and make unfair judgements.

"I am horrified by the motives behind the TikTok post and especially the lack of remorse from the people who created it and shared it to over 800,000 people. Despite the truth being revealed and (the teacher) being cleared of all allegations, the post is still it out there for all to see, all because of a political agenda that is aimed at dividing communities like ours.

"We remain united here at Stuart Bathurst Catholic High School. Our community spirit and our Catholic ethos has given us the strength to deal with this terrible chain of events and we pray that it never happens to another individual or community."

READ MORE: Police confirm 'no racist slurs or language' in viral video that 'made teacher's life hell'

He said the teacher's life has been "turned upside down" - including being hounded by people pretending to be journalists, and bombarded with messages of hate.

He added: "I stand firm when I say this, I will not let her career be affected by this horrific event and the attempt to assassinate her character for political gain. For as long as it takes, she will get the support of me, her colleagues within the school, and the wider multi-academy of schools, because we are a family, we are a proud multi ethnic and faith community, and we must stand together and support her."

A still from the viral video and, right, Akhmed Yakoob promoting it to his followers on TikTok
Stuart Bathurst School executive principal Richard May

He added: "While we as a community of staff and leaders were always confident in what we could see, hear and believed, we had to let the police carry out their full investigation first."

He added: "We are extremely proud of our diverse community and we now hope that this appalling event will bring us even closer together."

We have reached out to Mr Yakoob, who circulated the video, so far without response. He has taken the video down from multiple platforms but as of this afternoon it remained in circulation. He has refused multiple offers of a right of reply or to provide a message for the teacher affected.