Labour's Sarah Champion warns left is 'failing vulnerable child sex abuse victims for fear of being called racist'

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A former Labour frontbencher who was sacked after speaking out about sex crimes in the UK has warned the left risks failing vulnerable children due to fears of being perceived racist.

Labour MP Sarah Champion was forced to quit last month after facing backlash for writing a Sun column saying the UK “has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls”.

Following her resignation Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party would not “blame” or “demonise any particular group” and accused the paper of inciting Islamaphobia.

Ms Champion issued an apology for her “extremely poor choice of words” but, in an interview with The Times, warned the “floppy left” is afraid of speaking out on issues of sex grooming gangs for fear of being accused of racism.

Historic abuse: Ms Champion is the MP for Rotherham (PA Archive/PA Images)

The former shadow women and equalities secretary said: “If I’m on the floppy left, to be accused of racism is probably the worst thing you can call me. 

“That fear will motivate me to step away from a lot of topics I’d maybe tackle head on if I didn’t have that phobia.”

Ms Champion, who is the MP Rotherham – the scene of a recent grooming scandal – told the newspaper there is a difference in attitude between people living in “multicultural” London and northern parts of the UK.

Her constituency is among several towns, including Rochdale, Oxford and Newcastle upon Tyne, where groups of men largely of Pakistani origin have been convicted of sex crimes against vulnerable white girls.

She said many Labour members and politicians based in London had “never been challenged by a reality that’s different” from their largely “tolerant, multicultural world”.

Rotherham abuse trial- Six guilty over child sex exploitation

“London is not representative of the UK and it’s definitely not representative of the north of England in relation to race,” she added. “Rotherham and many post-industrial towns are still segregated.

“[The] multicultural policies that I, through my working career, grew up with, and which Jeremy Corbyn grew up with, need a translation to come outside London”

Ms Champion stressed: “It’s not that Yorkshire’s racist, it’s that Yorkshire is very blunt and doesn’t sugar-coat anything.

“In Rotherham, people’s frustration is that if they all knew what was going on, why didn’t the people who were meant to protect them do anything about it?

“I want us to be in government and I wanted to let people know we’re taking this seriously. I wanted to reach out to people that we don’t normally reach out to.”

Ms Champion was strongly criticised last month when she called for more research into understanding why most convictions relating to gang-linked sexual exploitation were Pakistani men. 

Rotherham abuse victim speaks

She acknowledged that most child sexual abuse took place within the family and most convicted child-sex offenders in Britain were white men.

But she added: “If, 15 years ago, we’d acknowledged there was a particular issue among a criminal subsection of men in the Pakistani community we could have addressed it, carried out the research and gained the understanding to challenge it, tackle it and eradicate it.”


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