A Note on JUST Yorkshire and Sarah Champion

From The Times:

An MP who received death threats after condemning the sexual abuse of girls by groups of British Pakistani men has been given increased security amid fears that hard-left and Muslim opponents are trying to force her from office.

…The strongest public attacks on Ms Champion, who campaigns for the victims of child sexual exploitation, have been made by a Rotherham-based racial justice charity, Just Yorkshire.

…In March Just Yorkshire published a report on Ms Champion that it said was commissioned by a “grassroots partnership” of activists and organisations.

…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”.

The Times understands that the report led to death threats against Ms Champion. Scotland Yard’s counterterrorism unit increased her security risk level and she was advised to accept extra protection. The MP declined to comment.

The article – unsurprisingly – is by Andrew Norfolk, who won plaudits for his reporting on “grooming gangs” in Rochdale and Rotherham (like Maggie Oliver, he was depicted in the Three Girls Rochdale dramatisation), but whose more recent reporting of a fostering case in London involving a Muslim family became mired in controversy over sensationalism and distortions.

An accompanying Times editorial states that the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which has provided funding to JUST Yorkshire, is “implicated” in what it calls “the saga in which the Labour MP for Rotherham, Sarah Champion, has received death threats”; in response to the main article, JUST Yorkshire has issued a statement along with links to

both our press release (published August 11, 2017) and Temperature Check report (published March 15, 2018) from which words have been taken and manipulated in creating this baseless and sensationalist front page Times story.

Champion wrote an article for the Sun last August under the headline “British Pakistani men ARE raping and exploiting white girls”. She later complained that the article had been “stripped of nuance” by editors, but she was forced to resign her shadow ministerial position (and to my knowledge, she has not explained in what ways exactly the editors distorted her article). Despite this semi-repudiation by its author, the article has often been cited as evidence of Champion’s willingness to speak out on a matter of public interest, and its critics as extremists who are weaponising false allegations of racism in order to suppress discussion of crimes against children.

The JUST Yorkshire report

The JUST Yorkshire report states that Champion, through her Sun aticle, “was sending out a message to the entire non-Muslim population of the country, whites especially, that our daughters are all at risk from males of ‘Pakistani heritage'”, although it concedes that its survey “does not provide evidence of any direct correlation between racist and Islamophobic attacks post the Champion article and media interviews and what Sarah Champion wrote and spoke in the media.” It does not dispute or criticise the findings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham (the Jay Inquiry), and notes the inquiry’s findings that “people in state funded authority had turned a blind eye” to reports of abuse and that Asian girls were among the victims.

Having browsed the report, it seems to me that its call to frame what happened more in general terms of “predatory men” – with comparative references to Jimmy Savile and Harvey Weinstein – is not conducive to properly understanding the specifics of the “grooming gang” scandals, but there is nothing here that can be reasonably blamed for inspiring death threats. It is noteworthy that Norfolk feels the need to bolster his article by referring to “recent Tweets” by “the charity’s leader”, a “radical academic” named Waqas Tufail. Norfolk conveys the grave news that Tufail regards the royal family as epitomising “white privilege”, and that he

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”.

The JUST Yorkshire report also contains a couple of references that are critical of the older Times reporting – a detail that gives Norfolk a personal reason for polemical coverage.

The Alleged Death Threats

There were previous media references to Champion receiving “death threats” soon after her Sun article’s publication, although details were scarce and there was no reference to any police investigation. And this seems to be the pattern once again: it is not clear why The Times merely “understands” that there have been new threats since March, or on what basis it believes that the JUST Yorkshire report is what “led” to them. There is also again no reference to any police investigation; one might speculate that details are being withheld so as not to alert a potential suspect, but that if that is the case then surely no article ought to have been published at all?

Champion also declined to provide any information in a follow-up article in the Guardian, although she provided more general quote which suggested she is vulnerable due to statistical probability:

Champion said she didn’t want to comment in detail on her case but said: “The real story is that at least nine women MPs have convictions against people planning to murder them (and one succeeded in Jo Cox’s case). Where is the outrage? Think how many have threats, I’m far from unique. Femicide accounts for two murders a week in the UK.”

“Where is the outrage?” is an odd complaint given that such cases receive widespread publicity and condemnation.

UPDATE: Extrapolating from the Times report, the narrative on social media is that Champion has been targeted for simply having “spoken out” about grooming gangs, or even for having “exposed” them, rather than because of criticism over how she framed the issue in her Sun op-ed.

Excursus

Champion’s “campaign[ing] for the victims of child sexual exploitation”, which Norfolk juxtaposes with “public attacks” by JUST Yorkshire as part of his monstering, includes the view that complainants should always be believed. This was shown in a Tweet of support she sent to Esther Baker, after Baker complained about sceptical Daily Mail coverage of her allegation against the former MP John Hemming of (satanic?) ritualistic sex abuse in woodlands decades ago.

10 Responses

  1. Loved this from those 83-pages (basically a demand for a “Citizens Jury” to be set up which would in turn “need to be supported with a qualified research team
    that has the capacity and skills to support witnesses, research lines of enquiry, undertake literature reviews…”; perhaps the qualified research team behind the report could recommend someone for the posts?!?):

    “She is not living in Rotherham so she has not clue what she Tolkien about.”

    Damned middle earth know-it-alls!

  2. From Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in the Mail today:

    “Now, following death threats, Scotland Yard has intervened.”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-6003317/Yasmin-Alibhai-Brown-calls-support-Rotherham-MP-Sarah-Champion-Pakistani-grooming-gangs.html

    • Sorry but I simply don’t get this. Where were the parents of these girls? Or the teachers for that matter?

  3. From the Telegraph a few days ago, “Sarah Champion MP: it’s been a nightmare since I spoke out about child sex abuse rings – but I’m not done”:
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/sarah-champion-mp-nightmare-since-spoke-child-sex-abuse-rings/

    Quite an odd article, repeating her concern over what she perceives to be a lack of outrage at female MPs being targetted by nutters:

    “”I just don’t understand why there isn’t outrage at what’s happening… … It’s extraordinary it’s not news,” she says [in a newspaper].”

    Also concerned that she has aged prematurely (she hasn’t; she’s 49) but despite these woes “looks relaxed and elegant in a silky, summer dress”. I get the feeling she’s amplifying in her mind the perceived threat to herself & not handling it very well.

    • Well, my take on that, unfortunately, yes, threats to MPs are real, and should be taken seriously, and unfortunately in 2016 we had, for the first time since 1990, a politically motivated assassination of an MP in the UK. A dreadful event.

      But, yes, her implication that there is no outrage is a bit odd. There’ve been plenty of pieces in the mainstream media, some of them written by herself.

  4. Sarah Champion, the alleged domestic abuser.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3806018/Ex-husband-Labour-s-domestic-abuse-Minister-nightmares-attack-divorce.html

    That article in the Telegraph is a bit…uhm, Danczuk-esque? Didn’t he even use similar phrasing in an interview he did with the Gruaniard? I have a distinct he may have done.

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