Naz Shah MP has received an apology and damages from a pro-Brexit group which falsely accused her of supporting grooming gangs.
The Bradford West MP began libel action against Leave.EU after a Facebook post claimed she was a “grooming gangs apologist”.
Leave.EU issued an apology that accepted Ms Shah was a “vociferous campaigner for victims of grooming gangs.” The Leave.EU statement said the post was “ill-judged and untrue”.
It said: “While the publication had been intended to be satirical; we appreciate that it was ill-judged and untrue. We accept that Ms Shah is not an ‘apologist’ for grooming gangs but is a vociferous campaigner for victims of grooming gangs. We apologise for the distress caused by it and have paid Ms Shah damages for libel.”
The post was taken down on the same day (December 16 2019) it was published but had already been shared and commented on thousands of times on social media.
The libellous comment was part of a post making fun of possible contenders to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Party leader.
Ms Shah welcomed the apology but said the post had been copied numerous times and was still used to abuse her.
“I faced a significant level of abuse because of these false allegations, she said. “So I am pleased with the apology and the clarification that I am a vociferous campaigner for victims of grooming. I will now focus on continuing to support women and children who are victims of abuse. I thank my legal team, my staff, Labour MPs, friends and family for their support.”
She added: “The allegation of me being a grooming apologist has been horrendous. The fact they’ve accepted that I’m a vociferous campaigner against grooming is important to me.”
Ms Shah said the post hurt because she had never “shied away” from the grooming gangs issue and was campaigning against it before she was elected an MP in 2015.
She said: “Islamic communities are absolutely appalled by it [child sexual exploitation]. People I talk to are appalled by it.
Ms Shah “wanted to draw a line under it and get on”, although she continues to receive offensive messages daily, she added.
Leave.EU played a decisive role in the historic vote to leave the EU in 2016. The campaign remains active as the British government negotiatiates its full exit from the failing European bloc following the country’s legal withdrawal from the EU in January of this year.