Ellie Williams – victim or villain? New Sky News podcast Unreliable Witness investigates



Unreliable Witness, a new narrative podcast from Sky News’ award-winning StoryCast, investigates the high-profile case of Eleanor (Ellie) Williams, the young woman jailed for lying about sexual assault and grooming.

Ellie was sentenced last year to eight-and-a-half years for perverting the course of justice after claiming she’d been trafficked by an Asian gang. However, the police found holes in her story and said she had fabricated text messages and that her injuries were self-inflicted.

With access to her family, police investigators and those most impacted by her allegations, Unreliable Witness asks: Why did Ellie Williams, an otherwise normal young woman, create such an elaborate lie? And what happened after the trial – once the media attention diminished and other allegations began to emerge?

With new and exclusive access, Sky News speaks to Ellie’s mum and sister, and victims of her allegations, to get a better understanding of what really happened - raising fresh questions relating to the case.

Sky News Home Affairs Editor Jason Farrell and producer Liz Lane, who reported on the case at the time, return to Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria to investigate what could have led Ellie to make these claims and if, underneath it all, there is a secret buried amongst the lies.

Jason Farrell, Sky News Home Affairs Editor said: “This is one of the most extraordinary cases Liz Lane and I have ever worked on. This tale of secrets and lies twists and turns with each new perspective. We get out our magnifying glass and try to go beyond the question put to the jury which was, did she lie? We ask why did she lie?”

At the height of lockdown in 2020, a 19-year-old Ellie Williams claimed on social media that she had been raped and exploited by an Asian grooming gang in the North of England.

Her posts went viral and social media rumours led to attacks on Asian men and businesses in her hometown of Barrow-in-Furness. When Ellie is arrested for perverting the course of justice, there are protest rallies and claims of a cover-up. At the trial the prosecution says she has lied, faked text messages and caused a catalogue of injuries to herself.

Three of the men she falsely accused have said they tried to take their own lives because of her accusations.

Unreliable Witness is the season six offering from StoryCast, Sky News’ multi award-winning podcast documentary strand. Sky News StoryCast investigates the real people behind the big news stories whose lives have been profoundly changed by seismic events. Previous seasons include Patient 11 – a joint investigation with the Independent into wide scale sexual abuse allegations within mental health trusts, and What happened to Annie Börjesson? An investigation inside the mystery 'suicide' of a talented linguist and musician who was discovered face down on Prestwick Beach.

Sky News’ Unreliable Witness launches on Monday 25th March, with the final instalment released on Tuesday 2nd April on the StoryCast feed. Listen wherever you get your podcasts.


Presenters: Jason Farrell (Home Editor, Sky News) and Liz Lane (Specialist Producer, Sky News)  

Podcast Series Producer: Anne-Marie Bullock 

Executive Producer: Louise Cotton 

Sound Design: Matt Wareham 

Additional Journalism: Sarah O’Connell 

Sky Podcasts Editor: Paul Stanworth 


About Jason Farrell and Liz Lane

Jason Farrell is Home Editor for Sky News and was this year shortlisted for Royal Television Society as Specialist Journalist of the Year. Previously Political Correspondent, Crime Reporter and Head of Investigations, his news reports have triggered national enquiries and debates in parliament.  

Liz Lane is a journalist with 20 years’ experience across TV and radio who has produced and directed a dozen TV documentaries for Sky from working on the frontline with troops fighting Islamic State to investigating the fatal shooting of a US agent on a covert mission to Mexico.  

Together their investigations include into the pregnancy test drug Primodos, which took on one of the world’s largest drug manufacturers and UK government, and prompted an inquiry, which would eventually lead to an apology from the health secretary, criticism of the pharmaceutical industry and regulators, and acknowledgement of a fifty year wrong.  More recently their work exposing the treatment of women in Greater Manchester Police custody has led to the commissioning of a review by former Victim’s Commissioner, Vera Baird, which will report back this year. They have worked together since 2016.  

Source SKY

March 21, 2024 4:00am ET by Newsdesk  

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