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  1. ITV Report

Labour MPs win £54,000 damages each over abuse remarks

Jane Collins made the comments during a speech at a Ukip conference in 2014. Credit: PA

Three Rotherham Labour MPs have been awarded £54,000 in High Court libel damages, after a Ukip politician made remarks about the town's child abuse scandal.

MPs Sir Kevin Barron, John Healey and Sarah Champion sued Jane Collins, MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire for libel and slander.

Ms Collins made the remarks during a speech at Ukip's conference in September 2014.

The comments came a month after a report found about 1,400 children in Rotherham had been abused between 1997 and 2013.

Assessing the compensation at London's High Court, Mr Justice Warby said Ms Collins had alleged that each of the MPs knew many of the details of the exploitation yet deliberately chose not to intervene.

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

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.

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 the comments 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.