The press is acting like a "lynch mob" after Baroness Warsi, Ken Clarke claims.

"There is a small minority of Pakistani men who believe that white girls are fair game," said the Cabinet Minister Baroness Warsi.

"And we have to be prepared to say that. You can only start solving a problem if you acknowledge it first. This small minority who see women as second class citizens, and white women probably as third class citizens, are to be spoken out against," Warsi was quoted by the London Evening Standard in an interview.

Warsi is Britain's senior-most Muslim politician and is co-chair of the ruling Conservative party. She was speaking after an incident in which eight men of Pakistani origin were arrested on charges of sexual abuse of young girls in Rochdale.

She also urged the community to deal with the issues in a more stringent manner.

"In mosque after mosque, this should be raised as an issue so that anybody remotely involved should start to feel that the community is turning on them. Communities have a responsibility to stand up and say, this is wrong, this will not be tolerated," Warsi added.

Even though all leaders severely condemned the incident, the racial element was not focussed. The police also played down the racial element. The BBC quoted Greater Manchester Police (GMP) Chief Constable Steve Heywood as saying: "It just happens that in this particular area and time, the demographics were that these were Asian men," ruling out the possibility of racial abuse after investigation.

Chairman of the Commons Keith Vaz echoed a similar view saying he did not believe it was a case of race issue.

Nevertheless, Warsi strongly believed that race has played a major part in the incident. "These were grown men, some of them religious leaders, or running business, with young families of their own. They knew this was wrong. Whether or not these girls were easy prey, they knew it was wrong," she said in the interview.

Warsi said she decided to openly criticise the incident after her father urged her to do so.

The Conservative party's spokesperson said they did not want to elaborate further on the comments made by Warsi as what she said spoke for itself, according to the BBC report.