Sarah Champion was sacked by Jeremy Corbyn over Sun article on sexual exploitation of white girls

Posted On: 
17th August 2017

Jeremy Corbyn sacked Sarah Champion after she claimed Britain has "a problem" with British-Pakistani men raping vulnerable white girls, PoliticsHome has learned.

Sarah Champion applauds Jeremy Corbyn at the launch of Labour's election manifesto.
Credit: 
PA Images

Ms Champion officially resigned as shadow equalities minister yesterday following intense criticism over her comments, which she made in an article for The Sun.

But it has emerged that Mr Corbyn asked her to quit the Shadow Cabinet-level post - effectively sacking her from the role.

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A source close to the Labour leader said: "There can be no question of stigmatising entire communities on the basis of race, religion or country of origin."

In her article, published last Friday, Rotherham MP Ms Champion said: "Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls. There. I said it. Does that make me a racist? Or am I just prepared to call out this horrifying problem for what it is?

"For too long we have ignored the race of these abusers and, worse, tried to cover it up. No more. These people are predators and the common denominator is their ethnic heritage."

The column was published after 17 men and one woman were convicted over the abuse of girls, some as young as 14, in Newcastle.

After it sparked a furious backlash from Labour activists, Ms Champion tried to claim her piece had been amended by The Sun. But it later emerged that an aide had written to the newspaper saying the MP was "thrilled" with the article.

In her resignation statement yesterday, she said: "I am concerned that my continued position in the Shadow Cabinet would distract from the crucial issues around child protection which I have campaigned on my entire career.

"It is therefore with regret that I tender my resignation as Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities."

Mr Corbyn said: "I have accepted Sarah Champion’s resignation and thank her for her work in the Shadow Cabinet. I look forward to working together in the future.”

Ms Champion today received the backing of Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, who said that race should be part of an "open honest debate" about abuse. 

'DISTRACTING'

But another prominent British-Pakistani politician, shadow justice minister Yasmin Qureshi, said trying to focus on ethnicity was "completely wrong" and risked "distracting from what's really going on".

She pointed to her own experience as a criminal lawyer dealing with similar cases, arguing that the real issue was about criminal behaviour, not race.

Speaking on Radio Four's Today programme, she said: "I was a prosecutor for 13-odd years and I've been a criminal practitioner before I became an MP. What happened in Newcastle, what's been happening recently actually, I can remember doing a case back in the 90s where there were seven males of not Asian ethnicity who were actually doing something similar to about 13 different women of different ethnicity.

"So it was a crime and I think what we need to look at is these things are criminal activity and it's about vulnerability and it's about opportunity.

"I think that as somebody who was a criminal lawyer and somebody who's very interested in the law. I think we need to be discussing and addressing these vulnerability issues, not just in places like Newcastle, but everywhere else because most of sexual abuse, for example, occurs within the home.

And she hit out at fellow guest Marilyn Hawes, the founder of charity Enough Abuse UK, for claiming there was a "deep-seated" issue with Asian men targeting white women.

"I was born in Pakistan, raised in this country. I have never come across in my family anybody saying that you should be going out and abusing people - and can I just say that Islamic and Asian culture specifically talks about the fact physical intimacy should be within the marriage. They abhor drugs, they abhor alcohol...

"My brother and my father, in my family we have all sorts of discussions and I've been to mosque, right, I've never heard that kind of thing being said and therefore I find people like yourself saying these things are completely wrong and you - with absolute respect - you don't know what you're talking about."