A LABOUR MP who condemned Asian child abuse gangs has been given boosted security amid fears she is being targeted by Muslim and hard-left opponents.
Sarah Champion received death threats after warning in The Sun last year of “a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls” in her Rotherham constituency. Ms Champion was forced to step down as shadow women and equalities minister in the wake of the article…
Her comments triggered a major backlash from far left activists and Pakistani community groups in her constituency. They accused her of “industrial-scale racism” for pointing out that the sexual predators had a common “ethnic heritage”.
Allies of Ms Champion have claimed they are trying to ruin her reputation in a bid to force her out of Parliament and replace her with a Muslim member of the local council.
In correspondence seen by The Times the ex-deputy leader of Rotherham Council described her as an “ogre”. Jahangir Akhtar warned: “If Labour wants to keep her seat, they need to get rid of her pretty quick.”
The newspaper reports that a leading figure of the local hard-left Momentum group Taiba Yasseen is being lined up to replace Ms Champion if she quits. She is seeking a Westminster seat and has publicly condemned Ms Champion for “betraying an entire ethnic group”. Ms Yasseen, 43, was dropped from the Rotherham cabinet in May for reasons the party has declined to reveal, but supporters of Ms Champion say that the decision was prompted by concerns that she was trying to discredit the MP.
The criticism of Ms Champion has been orchestrated by a local racial justice charity, Just Yorkshire, whose main donor is the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust
The charity’s leader has accused the MP of “industrial-scale racism” and “inciting and inviting hatred against minorities”. One of its leading figures is a radical academic, Waqas Tufail, whose research speciality is Islamophobia and the “racialisation of crime”. Recent tweets by Dr Tufail, who accused Ms Champion of “promoting racism”, congratulated the new Duchess of Sussex on “joining the institution that epitomises white supremacy”. He also mocked the England football team during the World Cup, describing its three lions emblem as a colonial legacy that would more appropriately be of “three hedgehogs”.
Since 2008 Just Yorkshire has received more than £550,000 from the Joseph Rowntree trust, which has also given £230,000 to The Monitoring Group (TMG), a London racial justice charity with which Just is associated. TMG says its formation was “inspired by” the US Black Panther movement.
In March Just Yorkshire published a report on Ms Champion that it said was commissioned by a “grassroots partnership” of activists and organisations including the Rotherham Taxi Association and the Rotherham Council of Mosques. Just Yorkshire, has not explained how it selected the 165 people who completed its online survey.
Co-authored by Nadeem Murtuja, the chairman and acting director of Just Yorkshire, it said that British Pakistanis felt “scapegoated, dehumanised and potentially criminalised” by their MP, who had “crossed a point of no return”. Its foreword accused her of “fanning the flames of racial hatred” and acting like a “neo-fascist murderer”.
Mr Murtuja is a Labour supporter but said any suggestion that his charity was part of a plot against Ms Champion was “completely wide of the mark”. He said Ms Yasseen was the victim of a “racially motivated witch hunt”, adding: “This is a community that has felt under siege and we wanted to make sure its voice was properly heard…”
Among (her) opponents are Labour members in Rotherham who were less than enthralled by Ms Champion’s selection as the party’s candidate six years ago. The NEC was said to have wanted as its candidate a “clean skin” untainted by growing concerns about the council’s longstanding failure to tackle sex-grooming crimes. She was chosen as Labour’s candidate by the party’s national executive committee at a selection meeting at which there was a mass walkout by supporters of Mahroof Hussain, a local councillor.
The protest walkout was orchestrated by the local authority’s deputy leader, Jahangir Akhtar. He stood down in 2013 when The Times revealed his role in brokering a deal under which a violent abuser to whom he was related, Arshid Hussain, agreed to hand over a missing 14-year-old girl to police at a petrol station.Hussain did so after receiving an assurance that he would not be prosecuted. At a 2016 trial, Hussain and two of his brothers were given sentences of up to 35 years for multiple sex offences against girls including the child in the petrol station handover.
The Joseph Rowntree trust declined to comment. It is not suggested that the death threats came from anyone who is seeking to force the MP to stand down.