Mother of jailed fantasist denies she stole £22k of donations
Mother of jailed fantasist Eleanor Williams who lied about being raped by Asian grooming gang denies claims she pocketed £22k donated by well-wishers – saying she’s given the money to homeless charities
- Allison Johnston, 51, said she has donated the funds to homelessness charities
- It comes after accusations she pocketed the funds after Williams’s conviction
The mother of a jailed fantasist who lied about being raped and trafficked by an Asian grooming gang has denied pocketing thousands of pounds raised for her daughter.
Allison Johnston, 51, has hit back at Tory councillor Shane Yerrell’s claims she stole nearly £22,000 donated to her daughter Eleanor Williams, 22, after he set up a Just Giving Page to raise money for her.
But former Labour councillor Miss Johnston has insisted she has given the money to homeless charities and she would ‘never’ have kept the money.
Mr Yerrell, 39, of Waltham Abbey, Essex, set up the fundraiser to help cover any costs of bringing the accused to justice.
But he and many of those who donated were left outraged when Williams was jailed for eight and a half years last month after it became clear she had fabricated the allegations.
Allison Johnston (left), 51, has hit back at Tory councillor Shane Yerrell’s claims she stole £22,000 donated to her daughter Eleanor Williams (right), 22, after he set up a Just Giving Page to raise money for her
Mr Yerrell and many of those who donated were left outraged when Williams (pictured) was convicted of perverting the course of justice and it became clear she had fabricated the allegations
Miss Johnston, who has been trolled on social media since her daughter’s conviction, said: ‘My husband and I work hard and have our own money. I haven’t touched a penny of the fund.’
She added: ‘It is not true that I kept that money for myself. I would never, ever have done that. The Just Giving page had been closed down, and when that happens it’s not possible to simply return the money. I didn’t act as soon as the allegations against Ellie were made because at that point she hadn’t been convicted.
‘The cash was given to my daughter, not to me, and I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing by her. I felt I needed to get legal advice first.
‘At that stage I had no idea whether or not Ellie would be found guilty. Although I accept my daughter made some things up, I do believe that substantially she was telling the truth and she was abused and trafficked despite her conviction.’
Mr Yerrell made a complaint to her bank which forcibly recovered £7,158 of the funds after Williams was convicted.
Miss Johnston donated £12,842 of the remaining cash to two homeless charities whose identities she does not want to reveal for fear they will be trolled for accepting it.
Miss Johnston said the remaining £1204.11 was given to Ellie before her conviction to pay for therapy, with Mr Yerrell’s approval.
She added: ‘After Ellie’s conviction I was in talks with Shane about what to do with the money.
Mr Yerrell (pictured) made a complaint to her bank which forcibly recovered £7,158 of the funds after Williams was convicted
‘We discussed giving it to Women’s Community Matters, but they refused it. We had the same problem with other charities we approached.
‘I never, ever had any intention of keeping that money for myself. I just wanted to make sure that we were doing the right thing.
‘I felt like I was being forced to make a rash decision and I wasn’t comfortable with that.
‘I’d been through a lot, my daughter was locked up. It was an overwhelming time.
‘Shane gave interviews to reporters, accusing me of taking the money. He wouldn’t leave me alone, and I felt as though his behaviour was bordering on harassment.
‘I wanted to wait for Ellie’s sentencing before making a final decision on what to do.
‘It’s been an incredibly difficult time for our family, but now the court case is over I feel like we have some closure.
‘We finally know what we’re dealing with and can try to move on with our lives.’
Mr Yerrell said: ‘All I wanted to do was help Ellie Williams, because I believed her.
‘At the very least, the family should have given the money back once she was convicted.
‘Miss Johnston hasn’t consulted me about the charities she has donated the money to.
‘She had no legal right to give that cash away without having a discussion with me. It was never hers to donate.
‘I haven’t harassed Allison. After Ellie’s conviction, I was messaging her every day, but that was simply because she was saying she was waiting on legal advice. She said she’d update me.
‘I had a duty to the people who had donated and to get the money back for two fantastic charities, who had agreed they would accept it.
‘I even sent Allison statements from both of the charities confirming that they would accept it.’
Williams was 19 when she claimed to be the victim of sex trafficking by an Asian grooming gang on Facebook.
She alleged the men had drugged, beaten and blackmailed her, and was accused of drawing on storylines from BBC drama Three Girls and film Gone Girl to concoct her lies.
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