Ruling to be made in Rotherham sex abuse slander case

Jane Collins
Jane Collins
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A Ukip politician who was sued for remarks she made about three Labour MPs over Rotherham's child abuse scandal is trying to avoid paying compensation, it has been claimed.

Sir Kevin Barron, MP for Rother Valley, John Healey, who represents Wentworth and Dearne, and Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham, brought High Court proceedings for libel and slander against Euro MP for Yorkshire, Jane Collins.

Their claim arose from a speech Ms Collins gave at Ukip's conference in September 2014 - a month after a report found that about 1,400 children in Rotherham had been abused between 1997 and 2013.

Last year Mr Justice Warby ruled that the MEP's words suggested that each of the MPs knew many of the details of the exploitation yet deliberately chose not to intervene.

Lawyers for 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.

Ms Collins lawyers made an 'offer of amends', where liability was admitted and an agreement to pay compensation was made, but the amount could not be agreed so the case came back to court in London yesterday for the judge to assess damages - which the claimants say should be in the region of £150,000 each.

But Ms Collins, who is now representing herself, claims she was under the impression that her lawyers were going to contest the claim and says there were defences available.

Gavin Millar, representing the MPs, said Ms Collins' application was an attempt to 'derail' the litigation and avoid paying compensation.

He said: "It is simply an attempt to get out of the bargain she made and yet another example of her inability to accept the consequences of her own actions."

A ruling will be made today.