Fake News: (UPDATE) Mom Says She Believed Boys Who Attack Toddler Leaving 15 Bite Marks On Her Face Were Muslim & Somali - But NO Media Blackout

Fact Check

  • by: Alan Duke

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Fake News: (UPDATE) Mom Says She Believed Boys Who Attack Toddler Leaving 15 Bite Marks On Her Face Were Muslim & Somali - But NO Media Blackout

Did Muslim boys of Somali heritage attack a toddler at a British play center, leaving 15 bite marks on her face and did the London media "black out" coverage of the incident? The answer is a little complicated: A 17-month-old girl was repeatedly bitten by another toddler at a play center in Leeds on November 2, 2018, and the mother tells us she believed, based on the clothing worn by their mother, that the young attackers were of Somali heritage and Muslim. However, she said she didn't ask and could be wrong. Also, there was no "media blackout" as it was well covered by the major media outlets in London.

The story originated from an article titled "Muslim Boys Attack Toddler Leaving 15 Bite Marks On Her Face - Media Blackout" (archived here) which opened:

A toddler has been scarred for life after being bitten 15 times by Somali boys who "took at least ten chunks" out of her face and then "strangled" her until she was "blue" -- and the media is refusing to report the ethnicity of the attackers.

Willow-Ivy Doherty, just 17-months-old, was playing with her 6-year-old brother Tucker, and sister Aurora, 3-years, at Little Bees, a play center in Seacroft, England on November 2 when she was brutally attacked by the Somalian boys.

"She looks like she's been savaged by a dog, not a child," said Becky May Doherty, mother of young Willow-Ivy.

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

Muslim Boys Attack Toddler Leaving 15 Bite Marks On Her Face - Media Blackout

A toddler has been scarred for life after being bitten 15 times by Somali boys who "took at least ten chunks" out of her face and then "strangled" her until she was "blue" -- and

First, as for the claim of a "media blackout" on the toddler biting story, many of the major publications in London wrote about it. The Daily Mail's story titled "'It's like she's been savaged by a DOG!': Toddler is scarred for life with 15 bites on her face and neck after CHILDREN attack her at soft play centre" was published on November 8, 2018. It opened:

A toddler was left scarred for life after being bitten 15 times by other children on a day out at a soft play centre.

Willow-Ivy Doherty, 17 months, was playing with her brother Tucker, six and sister Aurora, three, at the Little Bees soft play centre in Seacroft, Leeds on November 2 when disaster struck.

Suddenly her mother Becky heard another parent scream 'Oh my God, whose baby is this?'

The mother was forced to pull a little boy off Willow's neck when it emerged she had 15 bite marks all over her body.

Mirror's article titled "How mum of blood-covered boy reacted after he 'savaged' girl at soft play centre" said the mother of the biting boy did not initially come forward:

But when she did, she defended her son, Becky says.

"She kept shouting 'That's what kids do, that's what kids do!' over and over," the single mum-of-three recalled.

She added: "She looks like she's been savaged by a dog, not a child."

Becky believes the boy was two and was with his brother, aged four.

A spokeswoman for The Sun told Lead Stories their writer as "not aware of the ethnicity of the accused." There is no mention of the child's religion or ethnicity in any of these stories. Journalism ethics call for no mention of race unless it is relevant to a story. Read the full Editors' Code of Practice here. This is section 12 titled "Discrimination":

i) The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's, race, colour, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.

ii) Details of an individual's race, colour, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.

There is no obvious relevance of a two-year-old child's nationality to their proclivity to bite another child during play. This is not a "black out." It is just ethical journalism.

Conservativeflash.com has not yet responded to Lead Stories' inquiry about their lack of sourcing for the Muslim/Somali claim. Another publisher who included the "Somali" and "Muslim" references told Lead Stories their writer got those details from a Facebook post by the young victim's mother. They've recently updated their article to reflect that the post cannot be found on her timeline. There is an image of a purported Facebook post by the mother on a racist website's version of the story, titled "GHOULISH: Somali Niglets Chew Little British Girl's Face to Pieces." The mother wrote her "baby girl willow-ivy" was attacked by "a 3yr old samarlian boys."

Lead Stories contacted the mother on May 22, 2019 about this and she explained that she did post but later took it down. This is what she told us:

I'm not 100% they were Somali as I didn't ask them but myself and my sister in law believe they work. They spoke little English and were definitely Muslim as they were waring the clothing. Their was 6 mother's all together and they were all either family or close friends and from the same place
I'm pretty sure it was 2 boys they were brothers aged 3 and 4. When I saw it happening I only saw the younger one stood over her the older brother ran away but the mother did nothing she was denying the children belonged to her and claiming she didn't know them until staff said they were calling the police. Then she was shouting saying she didn't see the problem as kids bite!

We did find this message posted by the mother of the bitten child on Facebook six days after the attack. It said "Your peace is more important than driving yourself crazy trying to understand why something happened the way it did."

We wrote about conservativeflash.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:


  • 2019-05-22T19:19:17Z 2019-05-22T19:19:17Z
    Lead Stories contacted the victim's mother, so we revised the headline, the lead paragraph and the body of the story to reflect the new information.

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  Alan Duke

Editor-in-Chief Alan Duke co-founded Lead Stories after ending a 26-year career with CNN, where he mainly covered entertainment, current affairs and politics. Duke closely covered domestic terrorism cases for CNN, including the Oklahoma City federal building bombing, the UNABOMBER and search for Southeast bomber Eric Robert Rudolph. CNN moved Duke to Los Angeles in 2009 to cover the entertainment beat. Duke also co-hosted a daily podcast with former HLN host Nancy Grace, "Crime Stories with Nancy Grace" and hosted the podcast series "Stan Lee's World: His Real Life Battle with Heroes & Villains." You'll also see Duke in many news documentaries, including on the Reelz channel, CNN and HLN.

Read more about or contact Alan Duke

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