TWO of Rotherham's Labour MPs have asked a top judge to award them £90,000 in damages for “false allegations” made live on a national news channel by a Ukip politician.
Caven Vines, the former leader of Ukip on Rotherham Council, made the comments in an interview with Sky News presenter Kay Burley in January last year, during the run up to the general election.
Mr Vines, who lost his seat in the recent local elections, said that John Healey and Sir Kevin Barron “knew what was going on” in relation to the child sexual exploitation scandal in the town.
Mr Justice Warby previously entered judgment in favour of the two MPs and he is now being asked to assess the level of their damages awards.
Lawyers for Sir Kevin and Mr Healey said the impact of the allegations was “extremely grave” and that they continued to suffer - as Mr Vines has never retracted them.
Mr Gavin Millar QC told the court: “We know Mr Vines is not a wealthy man and this is not about getting money.
“The claimants have made clear their reasons for pursuing this case doggedly.
“He still wants to maintain the truth of the very, very grave allegation he made and the only way, in the teeth of an opinion like that, they can get vindication in the public arena is to pursue this.
“Mr Vines has never still said, even today, that there is no evidence whatsoever in his possession to support that allegation.”
Mr Vines told the court his statement during the live broadcast meant that the MPs — like “everyone else in Rotherham” — knew about the abuse following reports in the Times newspaper in 2012.
He said he tried to make an offer to settle the case in March, by sending a letter to the MPs’ legal team offering to “sit down and talk”.
While cross-examining Mr Healey, he said: “I made an offer to make amends to this, to sit down with you and sort out an amicable agreement.”
Mr Healey responded by saying he did not consider that a “serious offer”, adding: “It fell so far short of what we required and expected in view of how serious your defamation was.”
Mr Vines also claimed that no damage was in fact caused to the MPs' political careers, as they both received more votes at the general election than in 2010.
Mr Justice Warby has now reserved his decision and will give his judgment on the case at a later date.