Shadow minister resigns over 'poor choice of words' in Sun article about child sexual exploitation

Shadow equality minister Sarah Champion has resigned from her role after writing a piece for The Sun about the issue of sex grooming by groups of mainly British Pakistani men.

In the piece she said “by not dealing with the ethnicity of the abusers as a fact, political correctness has actually made the situation about race”.

She has sought to distance herself from the piece, claiming that it had been altered. But a Sun source told Press Gazette that the piece had been signed off by Champion and that she had initially seemed pleased with the way it was presented.

Champion has also attacked a comment article by Trevor Kavanagh which appeared in the same edition and made reference to “The Muslim Problem”.

More than 100 MPs have signed a letter to Sun editor Tony Gallagher claiming that the piece has Nazi undertones.

Champion said today: “I apologise for the offence caused by the extremely poor choice of words in The Sun article on Friday.

“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 political career.

“It is therefore with regret that I tender my resignation as shadow secretary of state for women and equalities.”

As MP for Rotherham she said in the article that she first heard about the problems around child sexual exploitation shortly after being elected in November 2012.

She said: “Mainly white pubescent girls were being sexually groomed and exploited by gangs of mainly British Pakistani men.

“I had to do something. I would not be another person who turned a blind eye to these crimes.”

She said: “More than 90 per cent of abused children know their abuser — it is usually someone from within the extended family — and the vast majority of convictions are against white men acting alone.

“However, as the latest case in Newcastle proves, we must accept that for gang-related child sexual exploitation, the convictions have largely been against British Pakistani men.

“The Government must act now to understand why this is.

“We have a large group of men behind bars, let’s do some research and find out why these monsters think it is acceptable to abuse children in this way.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, in a statement, 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 future.”

He added to Channel 4 News: “We are not going to blame any particular group or demonise any particular group. The issue is one of safety of individuals.”

A spokeswoman for The Sun said: “Sarah Champion‘s column, as it appeared on Friday, was approved by her team and her adviser twice contacted us thereafter to say she was ‘thrilled’ with the piece and it ‘looked great’.

“Indeed, her only objection after the article appeared was her belief that her picture byline looked unflattering. Her office submitted five new pictures for further use.”

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