Sarah Champion, Labour MP for Rotherham, was accused by activists of ‘industrial-scale racism’ for highlighting the ‘common ethnic heritage’ of those
Sarah Champion, Labour MP for Rotherham, was accused by activists of ‘industrial-scale racism’ for highlighting the ‘common ethnic heritage’ of those involved in the town’s sexual abuse scandal.
The former shadow minister for Women and Equalities hit the headlines when she spoke out after 17 men from Asian backgrounds were convicted of or admitted offences in a series of trials related to child sexual exploitation.
She warned people were failing to tell the truth about child abuse because they were afraid of being called racist.
She also said it was ‘predominantly Pakistani men’ involved in such cases ‘time and time again’.
Miss Champion followed up her comments with a column in the Sun, headlined: ‘British Pakistani men ARE raping and exploiting white girls – it’s time we faced up to it.’
She added: ‘Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls. There. I said it.’ The furore forced Miss Champion to resign from the shadow cabinet and since then she has received dozens of death threats.
She has been heavily criticised by racial justice charity Just Yorkshire that speaks on behalf of the local Pakistani community, according to The Times.
It’s leader has accused the MP of ‘industrial-scale racism’ and ‘inciting and inviting hatred against minorities’.
The charity published a report in March on the MP that was said to reflect an online survey whereby 165 people were asked to described the impact on the local Pakistani community of Miss Champion’s remarks.
Co-authored by Nadeem Murtuja, the chairman and acting director of Just Yorkshire, it said that British Pakistanis felt ‘scapegoated, dehumanised and potentially criminalised’ by her.
This report led to death threats against Miss Champion, forcing Scotland Yard’s counterterrorism unity to increase her security risk level, The Times reported.
She was also reportedly advised to accept extra protection.
Miss Champion apologised to the Rotherham Pakistani community ‘for any hurt or adverse reaction I inadvertently caused.’ But she said that Just Yorkshire’s findings were ‘based on an extremely limited survey, distributed through networks not made in any way clear in the report.’ Mr Murtuja, a Labour supporter, denied that his charity was part of a plot against Miss Champion.
However, Miss Champion’s friends have claimed that hard-left and Muslim opponents are trying to force her from office and ruin her reputation.
Leading members of the town’s Pakistani community allegedly want a Muslim member of Rotherham council to replace the former Labour backbencher if she is deselected or gives up her seat.
South Yorkshire council’s former deputy leader Jahangir Akhtar has reportedly labelled Miss Champion an ‘ogre’ in correspondence seen by The Times.
He warned: ‘If Labour wants to keep her seat, they need to get rid of her pretty quick.’ Momentum supporter Taiba Yasseen is seeking a Westminster seat and is seen as a potential successor.
She has previously criticised Miss Champion publicly for ‘betraying an entire ethnic group.’ Miss Yasseen, 43, was dropped from the Rotherham cabinet in May for reasons the party has declined to reveal, but Miss Champion’s supporters claim it was prompted by concerns that she was trying to discredit the MP.