This article titled “MPs will have been involved in child sexual abuse, says Champion” was written by Jessica Elgot Political correspondent, for theguardian.com on Friday 16th February 2018 16.53 Asia/Kolkata
Sitting MPs or members of their families will have been involved in child sexual exploitation, the former Labour frontbencher Sarah Champion has said.
The MP for Rotherham, who has campaigned on child abuse since the 2011 grooming scandal in her constituency, said she believed tackling the issue had been taken more seriously by David Cameron than Theresa May, because he had “crusaded as a dad”.
On Friday, after her interview with The House magazine was published, Champion angrily hit back at claims that she had suggested Cameron was better on the issue than May because he was a parent. The prime minister does not have children.
May set up an independent inquiry into child sexual abuse when she was home secretary, following allegations that politicians had participated in a paedophile ring during the 1970s and 80s.
Champion said she did not know whether politicians would handle the issue any better today and said it was statistically likely that at least one MP or their immediate family had been involved in child sexual exploitation.
“One in 20 children will have a sexual assault against them. When you look at something inappropriate happening to them, that drops dramatically to one in four girls and one in eight boys,” she said.
“That might be inappropriate language or made to feel uncomfortable or in a compromising situation, not necessarily being physically groped.
“So there is no way that there aren’t people who are sitting MPs who aren’t involved in some way or another, or a member of their family is. I mean, that’s just the reality and I know that’s very uncomfortable and no one wants to think about it.”
Champion resigned as shadow equalities minister last year after writing a controversial column in the Sun on Asian men and child grooming gangs, which she initially claimed had been edited without her consent, but was later found to have been approved.
The MP said she was concerned that May had allowed the issue to fall off the agenda since she became prime minister, having been committed to it as home secretary.
“David Cameron got it and I think he got it because I went to him as a dad rather than going to him as a politician,” she said.
“And I got him to meet some of the survivors of Rotherham and one of the mums whose child went through it. So we engaged with him on that level, which is why he then crusaded as a dad, wanting it for other people’s children.
“Theresa May was great when she was home secretary and then as soon as she shifted to PM, it’s dropped off the radar. It’s clearly not a priority for them. It’s someone else’s problem.”
Conservative MPs lined up to attack Champion’s comments, which the MP said had been misinterpreted. Helen Grant, the party’s vice-chairwoman, called them “an outrageous slur” on the prime minister.
“From tackling the scourge of female genital mutilation to modern slavery and domestic violence, the PM has been at the forefront of driving efforts to crack down on abuse in all its forms,” she said.
The Tory MP Mark Garnier told the Sun her comments were “a low blow … I don’t think you need to be a mother to know that child abuse is a bad thing”.
Champion tweeted Grant on Friday saying she had not been attributing the prime minister’s lack of action to her not having children.
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