Sarah Champion MP: 'Very damaging for Labour if there are certain national newspapers we are not allowed to speak to'

Former Labour equality spokesperson Sarah Champion MP has warned that it is “very damaging for Labour” if The Sun is off-limits for the party.

Champion was effectively sacked from Jeremy Corbyn’s frontbench shadow cabinet team after writing a comment piece for The Sun in which she warned that “mainly white pubescent girls were being sexually groomed and exploited by gangs of mainly British Pakistani men”.

In her resignation statement last month she said: “I apologise for the offence caused by the extremely poor choice of words in The Sun article on Friday.”

Champion was interviewed for The Times by Andrew Norfolk, who conducted a lengthy investigation into sexual exploitation by gangs of men in northern English towns.

A 2014 inquiry found that 1,400 girls were abused by groups of men in Rotherham who were almost all of Pakistani heritage.

Champion’s dismissal from the Labour frontbench was apparently as much to do with her choice of newspaper, as the content of her article. The Sun has been a strong critic of Labour since 2009, when it gave its editorial support to the Conservative Party.

Talking to The Times about the criticism in Labour circles for her decision to write for The Sun she said: “Ms Champion found it equally extraordinary that some within Labour circles reserved their fiercest criticism for her choice of newspaper.

“I don’t understand that and I think it’s very damaging for Labour if there are national newspapers we are or are not allowed to speak to, because if we’re a government in waiting we need to be able to reach the whole of the country, not just certain sections of it.

“I made a conscious decision to choose The Sun. Once you make the decision to be open and upfront about what’s going on in this country, you want to get the broadest number of people to hear that message.”

Although her piece was condemned by Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, the Rotherham MP told the Times of the support she has received from childcare professionals.

“My email inbox went nuts with overwhelmingly positive messages. Police, social workers, children’s charities, health professionals were getting in touch and saying, ‘Thank God you’ve said it; now maybe we can actually start dealing with this’. The relief they were expressing was extraordinary.”

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