Sarah Champion, Labour Member of Parliament for Rotherham, was cautioned in 2007 for hitting her husband, Graham Hoyland, with a painting during their divorce, it has surfaced. Champion, a prominent anti-abuse voice, won her seat in a by-election in 2012, on a platform that sought to protect children in light of the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal, in which a report published estimated over 1,400 children had been sexually abused by gangs of predominantly British-Pakistani men (Source).
Champion has admitted that she was “in the wrong” and that she “lost control”. Brian Hitchcock, head of legal services at Men’s Aid, a charity aimed at supporting male-identifying victims of domestic violence said:
“Sarah Champion should resign. Domestic Violence at whatever level is unacceptable.
“Ministers should set the highest possible standards and if they break the law then there is no place for them in Government.”
“I accept I was in the wrong, but I have nothing to hide. [I lost control] and for that I am sorry, but I felt extremely vulnerable at that moment. Things were extremely hostile between Graham and I and months of tension spilled over.
“It was a frightening moment but I think the experience helps me better understand how living in a toxic atmosphere can cause emotional damage. What happened between Graham and I has taught me how things can escalate out of control so quickly.
“I feel I’ve let down the people I’ve tried to help most, but it wasn’t some dark, horrid secret I was hiding, it was just a part of my life I tried to forget. We got into a heated argument and he said, “If you want to leave you’ll have to leave with nothing.
“I told him if he was going to be unreasonable, then I would be too and grabbed a watercolour off the wall. It had been given to us as a wedding present and painted by his great uncle Somervell, who attempted to climb Everest with [George] Mallory. I started walking out of the room and Graham made a lunge for me.
“The next thing I knew I was against the wall as he pushed the picture into my chest. I felt his grip relax and pushed back. He grabbed the kitchen phone and called the police and said his wife was attacking him with a weapon. I was terrified. That was the sum total of what happened.
“It was a slight altercation between a couple who were living in a very strained, unbearable atmosphere. That’s not to say I’m making excuses for what happened, but I was amazed when he called the police . Things got very messy after that. It led to weeks of highly charged tension between the two of us.
“It was a living nightmare and that event was the culmination of weeks of trying to be reasonable and hold it together. When I arrived at the station a female officer came in and asked me for my shoes and belt. I’ve no idea why but maybe they felt I was a suicide risk. I was finger-printed, interrogated and put into a cell. It was deeply humiliating.
“I was in a real state. It’s not normal to end up in a police station accused of assaulting your husband. After the initial shock I felt strangely calm sitting there on my own. I started to think that if I ended up in jail I could cope with the cell, but not the stickiness of the bench.
‘The police officer didn’t even question me for very long. I told him what happened as he recorded it. We were never really suited. Graham was so much older and we didn’t have much in common.
“I should have known it would never have worked.”