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Labour MPs win £54,000 damages over Ukip MEP's Rotherham abuse scandal remarks

Rotherham's three Labour MPs have each won £54,000 damages from a Ukip politician over remarks she made about the town's child abuse scandal.

Sir Kevin Barron, MP for Rother Valley, John Healey, who represents Wentworth and Dearne, and Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham, sued Jane Collins, MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire for libel and slander.

The case was sparked by a speech she gave at Ukip's conference in September 2014 - a month after a report found about 1,400 children in the area had been abused between 1997 and 2013.

Mr Justice Warby said she had alleged that each of the MPs knew many of the details of the exploitation yet deliberately chose not to intervene.

She had also expressed the opinion that they acted out of political correctness, political cowardice or political selfishness and were guilty of misconduct so grave that it was or should be criminal, as it aided the perpetrators.

The judge assessed the compensation at London's High Court on Monday.

Gavin Millar QC told the judge that the allegations were the "talk of the tearoom" in Parliament in the run-up to the general election, and caused "extreme distress".

Ms Collins refused to withdraw them throughout the whole of the campaign, had not apologised and had repeatedly tried to delay the litigation.

She made an offer of amends which was accepted - but the amount of compensation could not be agreed so had to come back to court.

Ms Collins had argued 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 hearing is continuing to decide costs and other matters.

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