South Yorkshire MPs 'relief at clearing our names' after libel payout

John Healey MP.
John Healey MP.

Three MPs - awarded libel damages after a Ukip politician made remarks linking them with the child abuse scandal in Rotherham - have spoken of their relief at 'clearing our names'.

Rotherham's three Labour MPs Sir Kevin Barron, Sarah Champion and John Healey were today awarded £54, 000 each in High Court libel damages over comments made by UKIP MEP Jane Collins.

Sir Kevin Barron.

Sir Kevin Barron.

Ms Collins, UK Independence Party Euro MP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, made allegations against the three MPs during Ukip's party conference in Doncaster in 2014.

Mr Justice Mark Warby said at London's High Court that Ms Collins had alleged that the three politicians knew many of the details of the child sex abuse scandal in Rotherham yet deliberately chose not to intervene.

She made the false allegations just a month after a report revealed about 1,400 children had been abused in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.

After winning libel case, the three MPs issued a joint statement: "Today’s judgement at last brings to an end a process to clear our names which has gone on for over two years.

Sarah Champion.

Sarah Champion.

"The judge has also noted the impact on each claimant’s reputation was seriously harmful, and each suffered substantial distress as a result of the publication complained of, from the repetition of its gist or sting, and from the cascade of hostile social media response.

“In this era of so-called ‘post truth politics’, today’s judgement serves as an important reminder that facts matter."

Ms Collins had argued during the case that it was a political speech which did not contain any allegation of fact,, but expressed an opinion to the effect that the MPs were likely to have known that sexual exploitation was a serious problem in the area.

The High Court found in favour of the three MPs. .