In Brief

Security upped for Rotherham MP amid fury over Asian sex gang claims

Former Labour frontbencher Sarah Champion is under pressure to step down from her seat

A Labour MP who claimed that British Pakistani men were “raping and exploiting white girls” is being guarded by counterterrorism police amid fears for her safety.

Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham, resigned from the shadow cabinet last summer after writing an article for The Sun in which she spoke of the “common ethnic heritage” of the men involved in the town’s sexual abuse scandal.

“There. I said it,” she wrote. “Does that make me a racist? Or am I just prepared to call out this horrifying problem for what it is?”

Champion subsequently apologised for her “extremely poor choice of words” and stepped down from her role as shadow women and equalities minister,  after being accused by activists of “industrial-scale racism”.

She also told the Rotherham Pakistani community that she was sorry “for any hurt or adverse reaction I inadvertently caused”.

Despite her apologies, however, death threats have been made against Champion, according to The Times.

“Scotland Yard’s counterterrorism unit increased her security risk level and she was advised to accept extra protection,” reports the newspaper, which says there are also concerns “that hard-left and Muslim opponents are trying to force her from office”.

Councillor Taiba Yasseen, part of the local Momentum movement, is reportedly being lined up as a potential successor. She has previously accused Champion of “betraying an entire ethnic group”.

The Times says that the “strongest attacks” on Champion have come from a Rotherham-based racial justice charity, Just Yorkshire, which accuses her of “inciting and inviting hatred against minorities”.

Funding for the protection of MPs rose from around £170,500 in 2015-16 to more than £2.5m in the wake of the murder of Jo Cox in her West Yorkshire constituency of Batley and Spen, according to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA).

Cox, who campaigned for the rights of refugees, was shot and stabbed by right-wing extremist Thomas Mair in June 2016.

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