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Ukip MEP ordered to pay £162,000 in libel damages to Labour MPs …

Posted by Greg Lance - Watkins (Greg_L-W) on 06/02/2017

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Ukip MEP ordered to pay £162,000 in libel damages to Labour MPs …

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Greg Lance – Watkins



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Ukip MEP ordered to pay £162,000 in libel damages to Labour MPs

Jane Collins claimed in conference speech that three MPs knew about Rotherham child abuse scandal, but chose not to act

Jane Collins
Jane Collins outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London. She argued that the speech was political and expressed an opinion. Photograph: John Stillwell/PA

A Ukip MEP has been ordered to pay more than £160,000 in libel and slander damages, and faces an additional costs bill of £196,000, after alleging that three Labour MPs knew about the widespread abuse of children in Rotherham, but deliberately chose to do nothing.

The high court in London ordered Jane Collins to pay £54,000 each to Sarah Champion, Kevin Barron and John Healey, the MPs for Rotherham, Rother Valley, and Wentworth and Dearne respectively.

The judge, Mr Justice Warby, ordered the MEP to make an interim payment of £120,000 costs, plus the damages, within 21 days.

It is understood that Collins will have to cover the bill herself, with Ukip not expected to contribute.

Collins, an MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, made the comments in a speech to Ukip’s annual conference in Doncaster in September 2014.

Warby said Collins claimed that each of the MPs had known many of the details of the exploitation of more than 1,400 children in Rotherham over a 16-year period, but chosen to not act.

Collins argued in her speech that the MPs had failed to speak out about the abuse, carried out mostly by Asian men, because of political correctness, cowardice or selfishness, and were thus guilty of grave misconduct.

“The abusers time and time again walked away. And why? It was because of their Asian origin,” Collins said in the speech.

Gavin Millar QC, representing the MPs, said the allegations led to his clients being targeted repeatedly on social media before the 2015 general election.

“The impact of the allegations on the claimants was extremely grave,” he said. “They caused immense damage and made the whole election extremely stressful for each of the claimants.”

In a joint statement, the MPs said the case had been “delayed and dragged out time [and] again by Jane Collins’ repeated attempts to evade justice”.

“She has run out of places to hide and the judge said in no uncertain terms that her behaviour since proceedings began has been unreasonable and offensive,” they said.

“The judge has also noted [that] the impact on each claimant’s reputation was seriously harmful, [bringing a] cascade of hostile social media response.

“Ms Collins could have admitted her mistake, withdrawn her remarks and apologised to us. Instead, she tried every trick in the book, including the absurd irony of trying, and failing, to seek immunity by hiding behind the EU institutions she is so keen for us to leave behind.”

A spokesman for Collins said she had no immediate comment on the ruling.

The court was told that Collins refused to withdraw the allegations during the 2015 general election campaign, had not apologised and had repeatedly tried to delay the litigation.

She made an offer of amends that was accepted, but the amount of compensation could not be agreed and had to come back to court.

In her defence, Collins argued that it was a political speech, which did not contain any allegation of fact, but merely expressed an opinion.

The award of £54,000 for defamation in each case was composed of £45,000 for libel and £9,000 for slander.

An official inquiry into the Rotherham abuse scandal blamed failings by Rotherham council and South Yorkshire police. The report by Prof Alexis Jay, a former chief inspector of social work, concluded that the council knew as far back as 2005 of sexual exploitation being committed on a wide scale, yet failed to act.

In a separate case, Barron and Healey won a similar libel case against the former Rotherham Ukip councillor Caven Vines. Last June, he was ordered to pay £40,000 in damages to each MP, and costs.

To view the original aerticle CLICK HERE



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