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

A young teacher who was falsely accused of saying a racist slur in a doorbell video that's gone viral has told how her life has been 'blown apart' in the onslaught of hate that followed.

The 27 year old, her voice shaking in distress, said she had been besieged with hate mail and threats as a result of a fake claim that she had used racist language. The police are investigating.

Her school, Stuart Bathurst Catholic High School in Wednesbury, was also inundated with phone calls and messages after the teacher's name, email, picture and social media accounts were shared in the online onslaught. The pile-on occurred in the wake of a widely shared doorbell video that went viral on Bank Holiday Monday.

Failed West Midlands mayor candidate Akhmed Yakoob circulated it to his 194,000-strong TikTok following and on Instagram and Twitter. He also named the young woman and her school to his followers.

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Now, he has expressed contrition about the fallout, claiming he had 'not intended that' and that he had not been alone in thinking the woman had made racist comments. He said it was 'difficult to hear' and if she had not said what he thought she had he would 'delete the video'.

But hours after that conversation with BirminghamLive it remained online. The woman was out supporting her friend and new Dudley councillor Qasim Mughal, who is Pakistani, when the alleged exchange occurred that's at the centre of the video. He heard the exchange for himself as he was stood nearby.

He also said the incident was testimony to the huge damage that could be caused online. "My friend is the innocent victim of something horrific, and it shows how quickly fake news spreads. The video insinuates she says those words and people lapped it up."

It was a view shared by the victim. She has been left 'devastated' by the unwarranted attack. "It was a really thoughtless, selfish thing to do, and it has been heartbreaking for me to go through this. I am still numb, it has been a nightmare.

"I have been unable to stop shaking, constantly on edge, it's brought my whole world crashing down. It is not only detrimental to my career as a teacher but also to my identity. All my life I have been known as a polite, well-mannered, helpful good person and always had a very good reputation and that was blown up by one false allegation."

She has received death threats, told she is a dirty racist b****, and warned to 'watch what happens' among thousands of messages. West Midlands Police have been informed and carried out a welfare check and provided security advice, she said.

"I have had family and friends supporting me thankfully, and parents of pupils and my colleagues who know this is not something I would ever do have been amazing. I have a close relationship with them so it has been a relief seeing them make contact and sending me messages. I cannot thank the school enough for their support.

"I hope the people who posted this and pushed this false allegation never experience this for their own children and families. I hope they realise that their words and actions can impact someone's life forever."

The incident blew up overnight on Monday and Tuesday when the doorbell video and a supposed 'transcript' of what was said were posted online by multiple accounts, including by Mr Yakoob. He stood as an Independent in the recent mayoral elections.

In his version of the video, he urges people to 'make their own minds up' about what was being said, while simultaneously pointing them to footage overlain with the purported racist words and hashtags alleging racist Labour. It included two uses of a vile racist term and a swear word - none of which were actually said.

The woman was out delivering leaflets on behalf of her friend and Labour councillor candidate Mr Mughal in the Netherton and Holly Hall ward on polling day last Thursday when the footage was taken. Rather than saying a racist slur, she explained she was actually saying 'I couldn't understand' and then the number '90' to her colleague. The exchange was heard in real time by Mr Mughal, who was feet away.

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He said: "I am absolutely livid and upset that this has happened to my friend, who is the sweetest, nicest person and a wonderful caring teacher. She was out supporting me, her friend, a Pakistani, for starters, and would never ever say or think what she has been accused of.

"These people have spread this vicious lie to try to make a political point, alleging that the Labour Party is 'racist', without a care for the impact on my friend. She has been devastated."

She first got wind of trouble just after 9pm last night (Monday) when her social media profiles began to ping with notifications, some of them referring to her in vile terms. Within a short amount of time she was overwhelmed with messages both online and to her personal phone, which began ringing with abusive calls.

She alerted Mr Mughal and her school, where abusive messages were also flying in. In an attempt to draw a line over the affair, the school posted a message on social media saying they were aware of the video and would be looking into it. Said Mr Mughal: "It was my first political campaign and on polling day I roped in a couple of friends after work to come and help me do a final door knocking session. It was to gather data to see how we had done.

"My friend had not done anything like this before, she is not political, or a member of a party, but wanted to give me moral support and she believed I deserved support. She had a script to follow that asked people if they had voted, and if so who for, and to then note this down, along with the house number. I was alongside.

"At this particular house, the full exchange went: 'Friend: "You voted for Labour lovely?" Resident: "Nah man" Friend: "Who did you vote for? Resident: "Akhmed Yakoob." Friend: "No problem, thank you." She then walks away - her fellow volunteer asks: 'Who did they vote for?" to which she replies: "I couldn't understand...Ninety..." and then the recording cuts out. The last number refers to the house number and was incomplete (it was 91 or 93)."

The video was used to instigate a claim that the Labour Party was 'racist'. Tonight in a statement a party spokesperson said: "The Labour Party has a zero tolerance approach to all forms of racism...we immediately began investigating this allegation."

They said the digital asset involved was 'manipulated' with the addition of the transcript. "It is disappointing and irresponsible for an unsuccessful candidate in a recent election to share a manipulated digital asset in an attempt to undermine...Labour."

We understand the Labour Party had the audio analysed by an external digital forensics company, who provided evidence to conclude the video was manipulated, the subtitles are not correct and the alleged language was not used.

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In a statement on Twitter last night, the school said it would be issuing a full report on the incident, which had been fully investigated. "We have today worked with numerous authorities as part of our investigation and that includes the police to support their investigation. It has been very distressing for all concerned as I’m sure you all can appreciate. Once again, we would like to thank those people who have sent in supportive messages to the school. On the advice of our legal team, we have to wait for further formal notifications before sharing any more information. We thank you for your co-operation at this time."

We have contacted West Midlands Police.