People offended by ‘Asian’ paedophile comment ‘oversensitive’

Sajid Javid has defended branding a grooming gang “sick Asian paedophiles”, saying those who criticised him for it were being “oversensitive”.

The home secretary told Sky News he did not regret the comment as he was simply “stating the facts”.

In October, Mr Javid tweeted about 20 British Asian men being convicted of grooming girls as young as 11 in Huddersfield.

“These sick Asian paedophiles are finally facing justice,” he wrote, also praising the victims’ bravery.

His Labour shadow, Diane Abbott, was among those to criticise the post, saying that “attempts by… the government to attribute these crimes to one ethnic group does nothing to support these vulnerable women”.

Speaking from Seattle, Washington, Mr Javid explained why he had commissioned research since the trial to “see if there are any cultural issues”.

“I don’t regret it at all,” he told Sky News.

Huddersfield grooming gang
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20 men were convicted as part of a Huddersfield grooming gang

“When I made that comment I was stating the facts, and the sad truth is that if you look at recent high-profile convictions of gang-based child sexual exploitation there is a majority of people that come from Pakistani heritage backgrounds – that’s plain for everyone to see.

“What I’ve said is that we, in trying to deal with this, trying to turn this round, we must look at all factors and we must not be too sensitive and shy away or be oversensitive.

“That’s why I think we should be looking to see if there are any cultural issues and that’s why I’ve commissioned some research on this.”

Mr Javid, who has Pakistani heritage, was also quizzed on recently telling The Times newspaper “it makes me feel angry… how they’ve disgraced our heritage… there must be a cultural connection, some reason”.

Asked if he took the issue personally, the home secretary told Sky News: “I think there is part of me that is angered.

“I am of Pakistani heritage, I think it is plain for everyone to see.

“And I think it’s true of virtually all British Pakistanis – they would be angered when they see this.

“From what I have seen from people in that community – people that have contacted me especially since I’ve made those comments, saying thank god there is someone who is taking this issue seriously.”

He added that “part of the problem” was that police and social workers “didn’t take this issue seriously enough because they didn’t want to be accused of racism and that’s wrong”.

Shot of the back of a police officer's jacket with the word police written across the back
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Mr Javid says ‘part of the problem’ is the police are afraid of being called racist

Mr Javid also warned that not having “a proper review of this” would “fuel the far right”.

He called all extremism – naming the far right, far left and Islamist – a “cancer in our society” and promised to “act on it decidedly”.

Earlier, the home secretary hinted to Sky News more money would be released soon in the wake of a series of stabbings.

And he waded into a row over whether ministers will see the government’s full legal advice on the Irish border backstop solution, saying: “I am sure the cabinet will see advice.”

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