Sajid Javid defends Asian paedophile comment: 'We can’t be oversensitive'

Ashley Cowburn

Sajid Javid has said he does not regret a social media post referring to "Asian paedophiles" after he was accused of sowing divisions over the remarks.

Insisting authorities must not be "oversensitive" and "shy away", the home secretary also called for all factors to be looked at in recent high-profile convictions of child exploitation.

Posting on his Twitter account last month - after a group of 20 men were found guilty of rape and sexual abuse of girls as young as 11 - Mr Javid said: "These sick Asian paedophiles are finally facing justice. For too long, they were ignored. Not on my watch. There will be no no-go areas."

His comments were condemned by several high-profile politicians, including David Lammy, who said Mr Javid had brought "a great office of state into disrepute".

"By singling out 'Asians' he not only panders to the far-right, but increases the risk of violence and abuse against minorities across the country," the Labour MP said.

But in an interview with Sky News on Thursday, the home secretary defended his comments, saying he was "stating the facts" and he "did not regret it at all".

He added: "The sad truth is that if you look at recent high-profile convictions of gang-based child 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 round, we must look at all the 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 why I've commissioned some research on this."

Speaking to The Independent last month, Dr Zubaida Haque, the deputy director of race equality think tank Runnymede Trust, described Mr Javid’s tweet as “appalling and a complete disservice to the survivors” of sexual abuse.

Dr Haque said: “First of all we’ve got to applaud the courage of the survivors who have come forward about the multiple acts of sexual abuse they have experienced.

“Research has shown that child sexual abuse happens in all groups, areas and all communities. To focus on one group of perpetrators risks ignoring all other perpetrators and victims. If we racialise the perpetrators not only do we do a disservice to survivors who are not white, we ignore other perpetrators who are not Asian.

“Not only does his tweet reflect his lack of knowledge about predictors of sexual abuse, in one moment of ill-conceived, ambitious weakness, he has thrown Asians under the bus.”