UK & World News

  • 25 February 2014, 8:25

Harman Furious Over Paedophile Rights 'Smear'

Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman has dismissed claims that she and her MP husband Jack Dromey were sympathetic to a paedophile rights campaign as "politically-motivated smears".

Ms Harman and Mr Dromey spoke out after party leader Ed Miliband defended his deputy's "huge decency and integrity" and insisted he did not "set any store" by the claims.

Along with former Labour cabinet minister Patricia Hewitt, the couple were challenged by the Daily Mail over their actions while they were officials at the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL) in the 1970s.

The NCCL granted "affiliate" status to the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), and is said to have lobbied for loosening of laws.

Both Ms Harman and Mr Dromey have issued statements angrily rejecting any suggestion that they were sympathetic to the PIE cause.

Ms Harman pointed out that at the time "any organisation could apply to be 'an affiliate' on payment of a fee" and there were 1,000 such groups alongside 6,000 members.

She said: "They have accused me of being an apologist for child sex abuse, of supporting a vile paedophile organisation, of having a relaxed attitude to paedophilia and of watering down child pornography laws.

"These are horrific allegations and I strongly deny them all of them."

Mr Dromey said that a leading light from PIE had called on the NCCL "to support the so-called 'rights' of paedophiles" but he had been "the first to argue that paedophiles could have no place in NCCL".

He added: "As a lifelong opponent of evil men who abuse children, the accusations of the Daily Mail are untrue and beneath contempt."

Mr Miliband was asked about the issue by Sky News as he welcomed new Labour MP Mike Kane, winner of the Wythenshawe and Sale East by-election, to Parliament.

"Harriet Harman is somebody of huge decency and integrity," he said. "I have known her for 20 years.

"I do not set any store by these allegations.

"I know she has a long and proud record of being on the right side of all of these issues."

Mrs Hewitt has so far made no comment.

The Daily Mail said on Monday night Ms Harman had failed to answer the paper's main accusations.

A spokesman for the newspaper said: "For 10 weeks now the Mail has repeatedly asked three leading Labour figures to answer questions about the involvement of the NCCL, a body in which they played leading roles, with a vile paedophile group whose actions are currently being investigated by the police.

"The belated statements today of Ms Harman and her husband - full of pedantry and obfuscation - failed to answer the Mail's central points and denyallegations the Mail has not made.

"More pertinently they have failed to utter a word of contrition or sorrow about the NCCL's closeness to the notorious Paedophile Information Exchange, an organisation that validated the activities of a monster like Jimmy Savile. Nor do they utter a word of apology to the victims of PIE."

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