Blind man's 'fears' after he is wrongly linked to sexual assault of 12-year-old on bus
PUBLISHED: 07:00 19 January 2016
A blind man who was wrongly wanted by police after a 12-year-old girl was sexually assaulted on a bus said he now fears for his "safety and security".
Fiaz Iqbal, from Barkingside, was pictured in a CCTV image released by the Met Police on Thursday in relation to an alleged sexual assault on a 12-year-old girl on a bus.
The Recorder reported the Met Police’s appeal on Thursday, which stated “a man stood next to a 12-year-old girl and attempted to put his hand up her skirt”.
The appeal has now been withdrawn after Mr Iqbal attended a police station last week.
The 37-year-old, who has been totally blind since birth, told the Recorder he had been “emotionally affected” by the incident.
“It is beyond my understanding. It has really upset me,” he said.
Mr Iqbal, who has worked for Action for the Blind in Tooting for 11 years, has been unable to go to work since Friday because of the shock.
He described the alleged crime as “horrific” and believes it has damaged his image in his community.
The incident was believed to have taken place on the bus route 123 or 179 travelling on Woodford Avenue, going towards Gants Hill on September 18.
“As far as I know, nothing happened involving me,” said Mr Iqbal, who remembers being on the bus for an appointment with his employment disability officer in Gants Hill.
Mr Iqbal’s sister, Samina Iqbal, 28, told her brother about the appeal when she saw the picture on Thursday afternoon.
After his shift, the pair went straight to Ilford Police station, where Mr Iqbal said he was told he had been “eliminated from the enquiry” and that there had been a “misidentification” and a “mistake” – but no apology.
A police statement released yesterday said: ”We are no longer appealing for information following an allegation of attempted sexual assault on a bus travelling in Woodford Avenue, Ilford on September 18 2015.
“A man in his 30s voluntarily attended an east London police station on Friday. He was not arrested and no further action will be taken.”
The Met Police declined to comment any further.
Mr Iqbal, who describes himself as “independent and confident”, told the Recorder he sometimes unintentionally touched people on public transport as he reached for the door, or a bar to hold himself to, but added that nobody said anything to him when the alleged incident took place.
He is now afraid of being abused after the appeal was made public.
“Anybody could push me, punch me or verbally abuse me,” he said. “I am just asking for my own security and for my own image to be restored.”
Mr Iqbal said he did not want an apology from police and was “glad” they were investigating the case.
His sister Ms Iqbal added: “We are very angry and these are very serious allegations. We have been very stressed as a family.”
Gary Mazin, from Gants Hill, is partially-sighted and works as a trainer for disability awareness charity Enhance the UK.
He explained people often “lack awareness and appreciation” of issues facing disabled people.
“Disabled people want to be a part of society naturally, but it makes it very hard when things like this happen,” he said.
“This is a very extreme case – sexual assault is very different to an accidental brush up”.