There was nothing unusual about the first time Anisah Ahmed first contacted Iqbal Mohammed via the professional networking site LinkedIn.
He was a successful commercial barrister with a top legal chambers in Birmingham who had starred in a 2008 BBC TV docuseries called The Barristers.
She was an ambitious young lawyer from Oxford trying to get a foot in the door. People sent him their CVs all the time, or messages asking for career advice.
Pushily, she followed up with an email to his work account requesting feedback and listing ten rather ‘presumptuous’ questions about his career path and salary among other things.
‘She sounded a bit haughty and demanding, so I deleted it without replying,’ says Mr Mohammed, 38, of that first 2010 contact from the woman who would later set out to destroy him.
But Ahmed was nothing, if not persistent. Three years later she invited him to connect on LinkedIn again. This time her simple ‘Hi’, and attractive profile picture ignited an exchange of friendly, rather flirty, messages leading to a coffee shop meeting.
Iqbal Mohammed was first contacted by Anisah Ahmed via the professional networking site LinkedIn
‘She was very personable and there were no warning signs at all,’ he says of that first ill-fated meeting. ‘While I, flattered by her attention, was an idiot.’
Today, Mr Mohammed bitterly regrets not telling Ahmed he was engaged, when she showed more than a professional interest in him, and the ill-advised affair which followed lasting less than nine months.
He will never forgive himself for cheating on his wife — they wed in December 2013 — who learned the devastating truth only when Ahmed, furious to discover from social media he was married, contacted her.
Mr Mohammed then ended the affair and apologised to his lover. But in doing so, he sparked an extraordinary real-life ‘Fatal Attraction’ campaign of revenge which ended only last week at Oxford Crown Court when Ahmed, 33, was finally jailed.
Indeed, all that seemed to be missing from this disturbing case was a bunny boiling in a pan on top of the stove — one of the most memorable scenes from the 1987 movie thriller starring Michael Douglas as an adulterous lawyer and Glenn Close as his deranged, spurned mistress.
Given a discretionary life sentence, with a minimum term of four years and six months, the court heard how Ahmed had relentlessly harassed Mr Mohammed and tried to destroy him with an ‘evil’ and ‘malicious plot’.
‘I felt very sad at this wasted life, this prison sentence that she’d brought on herself, but also a great sense of relief that the nightmare was finally over and, with justice done, we had closure,’ says Mr Mohammed in his first interview.
‘With Ahmed now in jail, for the first time in years I feel safe.
‘I don’t have to look over my shoulder, worrying about what she might do next. I truly believe she is dangerous and there are no lengths she will not go to in order to exact revenge. To be honest, I am still scared of her and the grudge she holds against me. I worry about the day she is released and whether she will come after me again.’
His fears would seem to be not without reason.
The court heard how Ahmed not only exposed his infidelity to his family, friends and colleagues, but tried to have him booted out of his chambers and disbarred. She forged emails from his work account, falsely claiming he was harassing her, and faked phone calls from him, lying to police that he wouldn’t leave her alone and had threatened to post intimate pictures of her online.
When that failed and police launched a criminal investigation into her harassment campaign instead, she then falsely accused Mr Mohammed of rape. Arrested at his chambers in June 2015, handcuffed and locked in a cell for seven hours, Mr Mohammed was left feeling suicidal with his reputation in tatters.
In a final, desperate bid to frame her ex-lover, Ahmed then staged her own kidnap and stabbing — roping in an ex-boyfriend as an accomplice — who confessed to police she had ordered him to knife her three times.
When he refused, fearing he might accidentally kill her, Ahmed is believed to have stabbed herself — almost severing her femoral artery with a horrific injury to her thigh.
Ahmed not only exposed his infidelity to his family, friends and colleagues but forged emails falsely claiming he was harassing her, falsely accused Mr Mohammed of rape and later staged her own kidnap and stabbing
She told police Mr Mohammed had ordered the attack on her, later producing a forged confession from an imaginary hitman. Wiping away tears from eyes visible from her veiled face in court as the judge told her she was ‘dangerous’, Ahmed looked nothing like the fashionably dressed, Westernised career woman police believe deliberately targeted Mr Mohammed after seeing him on TV.
Today, he is aware that there are some who will think he received his just deserts for cheating with a woman who then felt used and betrayed. He agrees he has every reason to feel ‘deeply ashamed of my actions and the hurt I caused’.
He is eternally grateful to his wife, also a lawyer, for giving him a second chance. They reconciled after a painful separation triggered by the discovery of his infidelity.
Mr Mohammed knows it would be easier to say nothing in such humiliating circumstances, but he is speaking out to warn that men can be genuine victims, too, and that not all women may be telling the truth when they make such damaging allegations.
‘If I’d been prosecuted, no one would have cared if I’d been acquitted. My career would have been over because I’d always be “the barrister accused of rape”. Accusations like that stick — even if you are innocent,’ he says. His message to other married men tempted to stray? ‘Just don’t do it.’
The son of a divorced school lunchtime supervisor, the Warwick University law graduate impressed when he featured on TV’s The Barristers.
He was riding high when Ahmed sent him her CV, which he would later discover was embellished with lies. Listing a law degree from the University of Buckingham, a call to the Bar in 2012, a diploma in Forensic Medical Science from the London School of Medicine, a Master of Laws from Cardiff University, Ahmed — working as a paralegal in Oxford — was desperate for advice on how to emulate Mr Mohammed’s success.
She claimed to have rescued ten prisoners from the death penalty while working pro bono for the Centre for Capital Punishment Studies in Lilongwe, Malawi, in 2012. This turned out to be a complete fabrication, along with her LLM from Cardiff, diploma in forensic medical science and other made-up qualifications, which would later result in her being disbarred by the Bar Standards Board in 2018.
Mohammed, a barrister at St Philips Barristers (above), has spoken about his ordeal
Mr Mohammed says he will never understand why he risked everything in a moment of complete madness. ‘After my marriage, I felt consumed with guilt, but I didn’t have the courage to end it, so I started trying to put off meeting her, but she wouldn’t leave me alone,’ he says.
All hell broke loose when Ahmed saw a photo of Mr Mohammed and his wife on social media and realised he was married. He apologised, told her it was over, and repeatedly rebuffed her attempts to rekindle the affair, but she continued to bombard him with calls.
‘In the end I snapped when she called me as I was driving and told her: “I don’t want to see you again,” ’ he recalls. ‘That’s when she said: “You need to be punished first.”
‘That night she sent messages to my wife, emails to my friends and sister and my wife’s family. My wife was completely devastated and shocked. It was horrific to see her like that, and I felt so ashamed. My family and friends were really hurt and disappointed, too. My mum cried, she was so embarrassed. They couldn’t believe I had done this; nor could I.
‘My wife and I separated and I thought my marriage was over, but we both felt that someone was deliberately trying to destroy our relationship out of malice and we both felt we didn’t want another person to make the decision for us.
‘We still loved each other, and my wife felt we still had a chance to be happy if we worked on the issues between us and could overcome them. I didn’t deserve a second chance, but my wife is the love of my life.’
At the same time, Ahmed was emailing the clerks at Mr Mohammed’s chambers, telling them how he’d betrayed her, was ruining her life and threatening to stop referring clients from the solicitors’ firm where she worked.
Ahmed was served with a harassment warning after Mr Mohammed complained to police.
‘I’d changed my phone number to stop her calling me, so she posed as a new client to contact me. When I replied with my new phone number, she then went to the police claiming I was still harassing her.’
Ahmed also wrote to his chambers demanding that they investigate Mr Mohammed for his ‘lack of integrity’. Demanding his suspension, she went to extraordinary lengths to convince them she was a vulnerable victim.
She claimed to have threatening messages sent from Mr Mohammed’s work email, with the chamber’s logo on it, which she produced as proof of his harassment. An IT investigation found that the emails were forged and had been completely fabricated.
Ahmed then brazenly used those emails as evidence to secure a High Court injunction against Mr Mohammed.
‘That was the first time she committed perjury,’ he says. ‘Sending those false emails to chambers is one thing, but relying on them in court is another. Police then arrested her, and though she admitted these emails were forged, she still claimed I was the one harassing her.
The harrowing ordeal sounds like a plot from classic 1987 movie Fatal Attraction, starring Michael Douglas and Glenn Close
‘They bailed her and seized her phone, and as a result she saw red. Something in her snapped, so she posted the injunction on LinkedIn saying “This guy is a complete fraud and charlatan” — and things just went from bad to worse.’
Alerted by one of his friends, Mr Mohammed was forced to go to the High Court to seek his own permanent injunction against her in a civil action and have her case dismissed. He says had he not been able to represent himself as a qualified barrister, it would have cost more than £150,000 in the civil courts for justice.
It was in June 2015 that West Midlands police arrived at Mr Mohammed’s chambers to arrest him on suspicion of rape, walking him out in front of shocked colleagues to a car where he was handcuffed and put in a cell for seven hours. ‘I was so scared. I’d done nothing wrong my whole life. But when those police officers read out the allegations in front of my Head of Chambers, I was stunned and watched him go white with shock,’ he recalls.
‘At the police station they swabbed me, took fingerprints, emptied my pockets and put me in a cell for what seemed like for ever. I just wanted to die. I was looking up at the ceiling thinking: “How can I hang myself?”
‘I didn’t know how to escape this nightmare. It was never-ending. I just couldn’t get rid of this woman. I couldn’t get through a day without having to deal with something she’d done or lies she’d told. It was the most awful experience of my whole life. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
‘While I was in custody, three officers went round to my flat and searched it. My wife was petrified. I’d not come home from work, she’d tried to call me and couldn’t reach me and didn’t know what was going on as they seized my computer and all my devices.
‘Anisah did all that because she wanted me to suffer.
‘When I was finally interviewed, I brought a lever arch file with pages of incontrovertible evidence to prove the exact opposite of what she was claiming.
‘She’d made sworn statements to the High Court, saying we had a lovely, happy relationship until she found out I was married. Someone who has the brass neck to go from that to then say “he was raping me”, it’s quite extraordinary. There was nothing she wouldn’t say or do to destroy me.
‘Once I was released on bail, I went home and told my wife what had happened. She was absolutely flabbergasted, but she never once doubted me.
‘She said to me: “I am not that surprised it’s come to this.” ’
Mr Mohammed spent nine months on bail before police informed him there was no case to answer and he would not face charges, indicating that Ahmed instead would be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice.
Before then, in a last, desperate attempt to put him behind bars, Ahmed hatched a plan to frame Mr Mohammed for her abduction and grievous bodily harm.
Recruiting her ex-boyfriend Mustafa Hussain, 34, to buy a phone in Mr Mohammed’s name, she persuaded him to send threatening phone calls from the handset. She also set up fake email accounts, using them to send herself emails threatening harm.
Planning the bogus attack in July 2015, the court would hear, she told Hussain to stab her three times as she sat in the driver’s seat of her car, and if he wouldn’t do it, she would, saying: “This is the only way out of this s*** — do it for love.” ’
Suffering a ‘horrific’ wound to her thigh, she told police she’d been stopped by another vehicle, ordered to get out and stabbed in the leg by a man. In the ambulance, she deliberately named Mr Mohammed, accusing him of kidnapping her.
Later she produced a bogus letter from someone confessing to have stabbed her on the instructions of the barrister. Again, none of it was true.
Hussain, of Slough, Berkshire, was given a two-year prison sentence suspended for two years. He will also have to undertake 150 hours’ unpaid work and pay £2,000 towards prosecution costs.
On the first day of her trial — which had been delayed due to her ill-health, then the Covid pandemic — Ahmed finally admitted her guilt and was remanded in custody pending pre-sentence psychiatric reports, which Judge Michael Gledhill described as ‘extremely disturbing’, telling Ahmed that her actions ‘were malicious, even evil’.
Today, Mr Mohammed and his wife desperately hope they can now stop looking over their shoulders. ‘We’ve had to move, change our cars, have CCTV installed and an alert system set up with the police where, if I rang 999, it would show up as a flagged call,’ he says. ‘It’s had a huge impact on us, leaving us unable to trust anyone we meet.
‘I came so close to losing my marriage, my career, my reputation — everything. I know what I did was wrong, and I sincerely apologised to her and my wife, but at every turn and junction there was this wicked woman trying to bring us back down.
‘I didn’t want her to go to prison, I just wanted her to leave me alone. But I agree with the judge that she is genuinely dangerous.
‘I do feel really sad for her, but also scared because there is no limit to what she will do to get her revenge.’