Sheffield & South Yorkshire

UKIP MEP Jane Collins 'facing bankruptcy' over damages

Jane Collins MEP Image copyright PA
Image caption Jane Collins made her remarks in a speech at UKIP's national conference in 2014

A UKIP MEP could face bankruptcy after she failed to pay damages to three MPs over remarks she made about the Rotherham child abuse scandal.

Jane Collins was told to pay £358,000 in damages and costs in February after being sued for libel and slander.

But, she appeared in court in Hull earlier on Monday after failing to pay.

A spokeswoman for Ms Collins said after the hearing that she will face bankruptcy proceedings if it is found that she cannot make the payments owed.

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Ms Collins claimed Rotherham MPs Sir Kevin Barron, John Healey and Sarah Champion knew about child exploitation in the town but did not intervene.

She made the comments in a speech at a UKIP conference a month after a report found that about 1,400 children in the area had been abused between 1997 and 2013.

She 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.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The award of £54,000 for defamation in each case was composed of £45,000 for libel and £9,000 for slander

Ms Collins argued 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.

She was ordered to pay a total of £162,000 damages to the MPs and £120,000 towards the £196,000 legal bill within 21 days, but failed to do so.

Ms Collins appeared at a private hearing at Hull County Court to discuss a demand for payment issued by the MPs' lawyers.

It is understood she had requested the demand was set aside but this was not agreed at the hearing.

A spokeswoman for Ms Collins said the judge has now ordered that an examination of her assets should take place before 8 June .

The spokeswoman said she would face bankruptcy proceedings if it was found she could not make the payments owed.

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