Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, Britain’s first Muslim peer, is the first politician to make a link between first-cousin marriages and sex crimes by Pakistani men.
He has spoken out after a spate of high-profile court cases where groups of Asian men have been sentenced for grooming white girls as young as 12 in Derby, Blackburn and Lord Ahmed’s home town of Rotherham.
Speaking out: Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, Britain's first Muslim peer, believes there is a link between first-cousin marriages and sex crimes by Pakistani men
‘But they are looking for fun in their sexual activities and seek out vulnerable girls.’
He said Asian men resort to abusing young white girls because they do not want meaningful relationships with adult white women.
‘An adult woman – if you are having an affair – would want your time, money and for you to break up your marriage,’ the peer added.
His comments come weeks after former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw provoked national outrage by saying that some Pakistani men look at white girls as ‘easy meat’ for sexual abuse.
Labour peer Lord Ahmed said: ‘I get a lot of criticism from Asian people who ask, “How can you say this about Asian men?” But they must wake up and realise there is a problem.
‘I am deeply worried about this as it has happened in my own backyard, and in Rochdale and Bradford.
‘This didn’t happen in my or my father’s generation. This is happening among young Asians. While I respect individual choice, I think the community needs to look at marriages in the UK rather than cousin marriages or economic marriages from abroad.’
Studies have shown that 55 per cent of British Pakistanis marry their first cousins, usually from abroad. In Bradford, the figure is as high as 75 per cent.
Although marriages between first cousins is lawful in Britain, it is frowned upon by many who see it as a form of incest. In America, the practice is illegal in 30 states.
First-cousin marriages among other British Muslim groups such as Bangladeshis or Indians are less prevalent.
Earlier this month, two ringleaders of a Pakistani gang in Derby were given indeterminate jail terms for grooming 26 white girls aged between 12 and 18 after plying them with alcohol and drugs.
Mohammed Liaqat, 28, and Abid Saddique, 27, were jailed for a minimum of 11 and eight years respectively for charges which included rape.
Both had wives through arranged marriages and had young children with them. In Rotherham, a gang of five Asian men were jailed in November for grooming white girls as young as 12.
Since 1997, 56 people with an average age of 28 have been convicted of offences related to on-street grooming of girls aged 11 to 16. Of these, three were white and the rest Asian, of whom 50 were Muslim, with the majority British Pakistani.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘We should not jump to form conclusions about national patterns of offending without further analysis.’
Health experts have previously warned British Pakistanis to reduce the number of cousin marriages as it is leading to a high number of genetic birth defects in the community.
Lord Ahmed was briefly expelled from Labour after he served 16 days in prison in 2009 for sending text messages at the wheel before a fatal crash.