Sarah Champion resigns from shadow cabinet role over newspaper column

Updated: 

Sarah Champion has resigned as shadow women and equalities secretary and apologised for her "extremely poor choice of words" in a newspaper article about child abuse.

The Labour MP said she was concerned that continuing in her shadow cabinet role would distract from the "crucial issues" around child protection.

Ms Champion cited her column for The Sun last Friday as the reason for her apology and resignation.

In the article she warned Britain has a "problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls".

Ms Champion said: "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."

Labour leader Jeremy 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 future."

Ms Champion's column in The Sun followed an interview for the BBC last Thursday in which she warned people are not raising potential cases of child abuse as they fear being labelled racist.

The Labour MP for Rotherham also told the BBC there was a need to acknowledge the "majority of perpetrators have been British-Pakistani" in the English towns and cities where grooming gangs have targeted girls.

Her remarks emerged after 18 people were convicted of or admitted offences in a series of trials related to child sexual exploitation in Newcastle.

Ms Champion, in The Sun article which appeared the following day, developed her thoughts on the issue.

She wrote: "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."

Ms Champion sought to distance herself from the article, claiming it had been altered.

More than 100 MPs and peers, including Ms Champion, later 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".