Jeremy Corbyn: Sarah Champion was wrong to 'label whole community' on sex attacks
Jeremy Corbyn has said Sarah Champion was wrong to "label a whole community” over child abuse crimes.
Ms Champion left her post as Shadow Women and Equalities Minister after penning an article in The Sun where she claimed Britain had “a problem” with British-Pakistani men raping vulnerable white girls.
The Labour leader today said had to go – after it emerged that he had effectively sacked her by asking for her resignation.
Mr Corbyn said: “I don’t think you can label a whole community; I think what you have to do is label those who perpetrate disgusting and disgraceful crimes against people – and they can be from any community. They can be white, they can be black, they can be any community but they have to be dealt with as the crime of what it is...
“Much crime is committed by white people; crime is committed by people of other communities as well.
“I think it is wrong to designate an entire community as a problem; what I think is right is to deal with the problem of the safety and security and vulnerability of often young women who can be groomed by all kinds of people into some awful and dangerous situations.”
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 confirmed today that he welcomed her decision: “I accepted the resignation so clearly I did think it was the right thing to do. And I thank her for her work.”
But Ms Champion’s resignation has drawn criticism from other politicians, who said she should not have been forced out for her comments.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said race should form part of an “open honest debate” about abuse.
Conservative MP Tim Loughton, a former children’s minister, told Sky News that Mr Corbyn’s response indicated “deafness on his part” to the problem.
He said: “It’s a great shame... She wrote an article in the Sun which was hard-hitting but was actually right, and not to wake up to the warnings she was making in that article – which are actually warnings that many of us have made over many, many years – is to be deaf to a problem that is happening in our country here and now and needs to be faced up to.”