A senior British politician – Harriet Harman, the deputy leader of the British Labour party – said she "regrets" the fact that a civil rights group she was a leader of affiliated a pedophile "rights" pressure group, but stopped short of issuing a full apology Tuesday, maintaining that she was being smeared "by association" by the right-wing British newspaper the Daily Mail.
Her move follows a steady drip-drip of revelations in the Daily Mail that civil rights organization the National Council of Civil Liberties (NCCL), of which she was a senior member of in the 1970s, granted affiliate status to "The Paedophile Information Exchange" (PIE), which campaigned for the "rights" of pedophiles to have sex with children and sought a lowering of the age of consent to ten.
Miss Harman’s spokesperson told the BBC, “Of course she regrets any organisation’s involvement with them, including the National Council for Civil Liberties. But they were immaterial to her work. She does not regret joining the NCCL. By the time she arrived they were very much under the radar and her work focused on other things, such as marches, apartheid and trade unions.”
Harman, her husband, Labour politician Jack Dromey and Patricia Hewitt, a former Labour Cabinet minister under Tony Blair, all worked for the National Council of Civil Liberties (NCCL) in the '70s. In 1975, the Council granted affiliate status to the pedophile group. PIE was not expelled from the NCCL until 1983, and many of its members have since been jailed. Ms Harman worked for the NCCL from 1978 to 1982.
One leaflet sent by PIE to MPs claimed: “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.”
The Daily Mail has published a series of front-page stories in the past ten weeks detailing Harman’s links through the NCCL with PIE, but up until now, when she issued a detailed rebuttal, Harman had steadfastly refused to comment on the allegations.
She appears to have been pushed over the edge by a claim in the Mail that Harman - the Council’s legal officer in 1978 until 1982 - wrote a briefing paper on the Protection of Children Bill, which sought to ban child pornography, in which she had claimed such a law would “increase censorship” and argued that a pornographic picture of a naked child should not be considered indecent unless it could be proven that the subject had suffered.