Southall Black Sisters director faces assault charge after she accused woman of 'racist attack' on Northern Line

 (Southhall Black Sisters)
(Southhall Black Sisters)

The director of charity Southall Black Sisters says she and two friends have been charged with assault after they complained of being the victims of aracist attack on the Tube.

Selma Taha, the charity’s executive director, said they are due in court next week as she revealed the “deeply shocking” charges that have been broughtby the CPS.

Shortly after the incident, on the Northern Line last September, Ms Taha claimed she and her friends had been verbally and physically assaulted in what she described as an “extremely violent racist attack”.

In news reports at the time, she alleged a woman on the Tube used racist slurs, made monkey noises, and referred to them as “slaves”.

Ms Taha alleged she had been bitten by the other woman, while clumps of her hair had been pulled out, she said.

She went on to accuse an off-duty Met Police officer of failing to intervene quickly enough, allegedly showing “indifference”.

In a social media post on Wednesday on the charity’s account, Ms Taha wrote: “On October 5, 2023, I made it known that I and two friends had been the victims of racist abuse and physical violence on the Tube, and that a police officer was present, off-duty, who had failed to intervene during the incident to de-escalate the situation so as to protect me and my friends.

“In a development that is deeply shocking to the three of us, the CPS has now made the following charging decisions.

“No further action is to be taken against our assailant in relation to the assault. In relation to her racist abuse, she has been offered and accepted a caution for racially aggravated conduct contrary to s4A of the Public Order Act, in relation to one instance of racist abuse which she has admitted. No further action is to be taken in relation to other instances of racist abuse by her during the incident.

“We have all been charged with common assault by beating.

“One of my friends has also been charged with a racially aggravated public order offence, in relation to alleged conduct towards a white British Transport police officer, after we had disembarked from the Tube train.

“The other friend has also been charged with a public order offence, but without the racial aggravation, again in relation to alleged conduct towards the same police officer at the Tube station after the attack.”

She added: “We will be fighting the charges… we regard these charges as criminalising the right of Black people, and in particular Black women, to call out racist abuse and resist racist violence.”

The CPS confirmed that Ms Taha, Divina Riggon, and Danae Thomas have all been charged with assault by beating, while Riggon is accused of using threatening/abusive/insulting words/behaviour to cause harassment, alarm, distress, and Thomas is charged with racially/religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm, distress – words/writing and assault by beating.

In the wake of the incident at 11.30pm on September 29 last year, British Transport Police said officers were called to an “altercation on board a Northern line Underground train”.

“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”, a spokesperson said.

“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.”

It said the woman had been arrested on suspicion of assault and a racially aggravated public order offence, before being released on bail.