Black charity boss ‘bitten in racist attack on Tube – as off-duty police officer watched’

Selma Taha, of Southall Black Sisters, says she was targeted with racist slurs, including monkey noises

Nadine White
Race Correspondent
Thursday 05 October 2023 09:23 BST
Selma Taha was subject to an alleged racist attack, including making monkey sounds
Selma Taha was subject to an alleged racist attack, including making monkey sounds (SBS)

A Black women’s charity boss says she was bitten in an alleged racist attack on the Tube – as an off-duty Met Police officer watched.

Selma Taha, executive director of Southall Black Sisters, claimed she and her friends were verbally and physically assaulted in the violent assault last Friday.

According to the charity, a Met detective constable was present but did not intervene when the attacker, a white woman, targeted the group with derogatory racist language, including making monkey sounds, calling them “b****es”, "slaves," and other slurs.

Ms Taha said she had “clumps” pulled from her hair and was bitten, leaving a deeply embedded imprint of teeth that required a tetanus injection and antibiotics.

”Almost worse than the shock of the racist attack was the indifference of the police officer especially now when the Met police has been rocked by evidence of historical, institutionalised racism and misogyny suffered by Black and minoritised communities and finally backed up by the Casey report,” Ms Taha said.

“We demand that appropriate action be taken against the assailant and the police officer.”

Selma Taha was bitten in the attack on the Tube last Friday (SBS)

When the train arrived at the station, Ms Taha, her friends, and the alleged attacker got off, but they claimed the police officer made no attempt to arrest the woman, instead suggesting that both parties go their separate ways. However, they claimed, when the charity boss threatened to report him to Met Police Commissioner Mark Rowley, the attacker was later arrested.

A Met Police spokesperson said it was aware of the alleged assault and confirmed an off-duty Met officer was present.

“We are making immediate enquiries to establish the exact circumstances. A complaint has been received to the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards and we have made a referral to the Independent Office of Police Conduct. The officer involved is being provided with welfare support during this process.”

British Transport Police (BTP) said: “An off-duty officer from the Metropolitan Police intervened and separated the group before escorting passengers off at the next stop, King’s Cross, and calling the British Transport Police for assistance. BTP officers quickly attended and arrested a 30-year-old woman who was being detained by the off-duty officer on the platform. It was reported she had been racially abusive and bitten one of the group during the altercation.”

The woman was arrested on suspicion of assault and a racially aggravated public order offence and has been released on bail while inquiries continue.

Southall Black Sisters, a not-for-profit, secular and inclusive organisation, was set up in 1979 to meet the needs of Black and minoritised women.

It aims to highlight and challenge all forms of gender-related violence against women.

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