The Telegraph reports:
Labour deputy leader’s insistence that she has ‘nothing to apologise for’ undermined by former colleague Hewitt’s frank apology
The Labour deputy leader has repeatedly refused to say sorry after it emerged that the National Council for Civil Liberties, where both she and Miss Hewitt worked in the 1970s, had given support to the Paedophile Information Exchange.
Harman is the current Deputy Leader of the UK Labour Party. Hewitt is a former Health Secretary.
Former minister Miss Hewitt’s frank admission that she had “got it wrong” on PIE contrasts sharply with Miss Harman’s insistence that she has “nothing to apologise for”.
As fresh evidence of the NCCL’s support for PIE emerged, Miss Hewitt, who has been abroad for the past 12 days, responded for the first time to criticism of her own role by saying she accepted the blame.
Miss Hewitt, who was general secretary of the NCCL from 1974 to 1983, said: “I take responsibility for the mistakes we made. I got it wrong on PIE and I apologise for having done so.
“NCCL in the 1970s, along with many others, was naive and wrong to accept PIE’s claim to be a ‘campaigning and counselling organisation’ that ‘does not promote unlawful acts’.
“I should have urged the executive committee to take stronger measures to protect NCCL’s integrity from the activities of PIE members and sympathisers and I deeply regret not having done so.”
Hewitt admitting she was wrong is the way to do it.
Meanwhile it emerged that the former Labour MP Bryan Gould was invited to become an honorary vice-president of PIE and said that he had a “good deal of sympathy” for the group’s objectives, despite turning down their offer.
BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme discovered that Mr Gould, a shadow minister during Neil Kinnock’s leadership, was contacted by PIE in the 1970s. He was approached following a speech he made to the Campaign for Homosexual Equality.
In a 1977 letter published by PIE’s in-house magazine, he said: “Yours is an unpopular cause and whilst I have a good deal of sympathy for your objectives, I do not think it would be fair to my wife and family for me to take a public stand on it… I’m sorry to have to send you such a disappointing reply.”
So in the letter he wrote at the time, he said he has a good deal of sympathy for the objectives of the Paedophile Information Exchange. Astonishing. Their aim was to abolish the age of consent to legalise sex between adults and children.
Mr Gould told the BBC that he did not remember the correspondence but had never had the slightest sympathy for paedophiles or any involvement with PIE
If he has never had any sympathy why did he write a letter saying he had a good deal of sympathy for their objectives? Is he saying the letter is a fake?