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Harriet Harman refutes allegations that she is 'an apologist for paedophiles'

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The Labour deputy leader, Harriet Harman has accused the Daily Mail of running a "politically-motivated smear campaign" against her after the newspaper alleged that she was an active paedophile sympathiser.

The allegations date back to the 1970’s when Harriet Harman, her husband Jack Dromey and former Labour minister Patricia Hewitt worked at the National Council for Civil Liberties (now known as Liberty). The campaign group controversially granted affiliate status to the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) who campaigned for paedophile rights. An example of the PIE position was outlined in a leaflet sent by them to MP’s which read

“Paedophiles are ordinary, decent, sensible human beings, no more sexually depraved than yourself, and with a capacity for loving and helping children which is at present being repressed.”

At the time, the NCCL maintained an absolutist position on free speech, something that they doubtless regret bitterly in hindsight. But with the Daily Mail and its history of smears, persecution and antagonism towards Labour figures, (most recently the character assassination of Ed Milliband’s father) making the running with the story, Harriet Harman appears to have dug herself into a siege and come out fighting.

Instead of simply saying that it was a mistake to have ever had anything to do with the PIE, while simultaneously refuting the Mail’s ludicrous claim that she was ‘an apologist for paedophiles’, Harman has refused to apologise in any way, a position she may find difficult to extricate herself from, as clearly the affiliation was, in hindsight, a huge error of judgement

Ms Harman told BBC Two's Newsnight. "It is not the case that my work, when I was at NCCL, was influenced by PIE, was apologising for paedophilia or colluding with paedophilia. That is an unfair inference and a smear.

"My work has always been, when I was at NCCL and when I have been in politics and ministerial office, to protect children, especially from child abuse."

"The editor and proprietor of the Daily Mail are entitled to their political views and they are of course entitled to oppose what I stand for but they are not entitled to use their newspaper to smear me with innuendo because they disagree with me politically and hate my values.”

A statement released by her husband Jack Dromey said: "Sexual abuse of children is evil and I have always viewed paedophiles and any group associated with them as evil.

"During my time on the NCCL Executive, I was at the forefront of repeated public condemnations of PIE and their despicable views. Then, when I was elected chairman, I took them on.

"I personally chaired the NCCL conference that, on my recommendation, refused to back by a massive majority a loathsome motion from a leading light in PIE calling on NCCL to support the so-called 'rights' of paedophiles. Indeed, my stand was denounced in a leaflet distributed by PIE to the delegates to the Conference.

"Like many organisations in the 1970s, NCCL had been infiltrated but that was the moment the tide was turned. I closed the conference saying that we had to stand up for the rights of children not to be sexually abused and that adults guilty of abuse were the lowest of the low.

"I was then the first to argue that paedophiles could have no place in NCCL.

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

The Daily Mail however ran the headline this morning ‘But They Still Won’t Say Sorry’ and the bitter row looks set to continue

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