POLITICS

Sarah Champion Should Not Have Lost Job Over Rape Article, Says Sajid Javid

Communities secretary says there needs to be an 'honest debate'

17/08/2017 10:01 BST | Updated 17/08/2017 13:16 BST

Labour MP Sarah Champion should have kept her job in the shadow cabinet, communities secretary Sajid Javid has said.

Champion resigned as shadow women and equalities secretary yesterday following criticism for a column she wrote in The Sun which warned Britain has a “problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls”.

She later sought to distance herself from the article and claimed it had been altered.

But The Sun countering that the column was approved by the MP’s team. 

This morning Javid said Jeremy Corbyn was “wrong to sack” Champion as there needed to be an “honest open debate on child sexual exploitation, including racial motivation”.

Jeremy Corbyn accepted Champion’s resignation and said he wants to work with her in future, but said his party would not “blame” or “demonise any particular group”.

But Rebecca Hilsenrath, the Equality and Human Rights Commission chief executive, said: “It is this climate where problems cannot be frankly discussed and tackled, that led to neglect, for so long, of the victims of these terrible crimes.

“It is a real shame that a respected advocate of equality has felt the need to step down due to an over-sensitivity about language.”

Amina Lone, the co-director of the Social Action and Research Foundation (SARF), told BBC Newsnight that Champion had been “used as a scapegoat”.

Former Conservative children’s minister Tim Loughton and Labour MP Barry Sheerman also praised Champion.

Announcing she was leaving the shadow cabinet yesterday, Champion, the MP for Rotherham, said she wanted to apologise for “the offence caused by the extremely poor choice of words”

“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,” she said.

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

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.”

More than 100 MPs and peers, including Champion, have also complained about “Nazi-like” language in The Sun following a comment piece by Trevor Kavanagh in which he asked what could be done about “the Muslim Problem”.