Ukip politician wins delay in paying compensation to Rotherham MPs in slander and libel case

Jane Collins
Jane Collins
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A legal bid by Rotherham's three Labour MPs to get compensation from a Ukip MEP over remarks she made about the town's child abuse scandal has come to a halt.

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

They have complained about a speech she gave at Ukip's conference in September 2014 - a month after a report found that about 1,400 children in the area had been abused between 1997 and 2013.

A year ago, High Court Judge Mr Justice Warby ruled that Ms Collins suggested as fact that each of the MPs knew many of the details of the exploitation yet deliberately chose not to intervene but allowed it to continue.

Lawyers for Ms Collins 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 amount of compensation could not be agreed so the case came back to court this week for the assessment of damages - which the MPs say should be around £150,000 each.

Ms Collins, who is now acting in person, claims she was under the impression that her former lawyers were going to robustly contest the claim and there were defences available.

And today, Mr Justice Warby, sitting at the High Court in London, said he was obliged to grant a 'stay' on the proceedings pending the opinion of the European parliament on a question raised by Jane Collins, who represents Ukip in Yorkshire, of whether she has immunity.

The suspension of the litigation came after the judge was informed by officials in Europe that the matter was being looked at.

Mr Justice Warby has ordered Ms Collins to pay £15,000 costs.