Hit or Miss? Harriet Harman hits back over claims of link to pro-paedophile group

Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman yesterday said she "regrets" that a civil liberties group she worked for in the 70s and 80s had links with pro-paedophile campaigners but maintained she has "nothing to apologise for".

Unbowed: Harriet Harman said the Daily Mail should apologise (Credit: Getty images)
Unbowed: Harriet Harman said the Daily Mail should apologise (Credit: Getty images)

Harman’s words follow a concerted campaign by the Daily Mail calling on her to apologise alongside front-page stories claiming she was a legal officer at the National Council for Civil Liberties when it had given 'affiliate' status to the Paedophile Information Exchange.

The statement came the day after Harman – who also accused the Daily Mail of "smear and innuendo" and said it "should be apologising" – appeared on the BBC programme Newsnight claiming she had "nothing to apologise for".

How I See It

Ian Kirby, head of media at MHP Communications and former political editor of the News of the World

Ever seen what happens when an irresistible force collides with an immovable object?

The Daily Mail's battle with deputy Labour Party leader Harriet Harman has been the best example seen in Westminster for some time.

Harman is, at least, consistent. For the past 20 years she has never courted the press.

Doggedly, she has ignored them and ploughed her own furrow, treating attacks about her role in the Labour Party, her opposition to Page 3 and this latest clash over alleged links between the National Council for Civil Liberties and the Paedophile Information Exchange as beneath her contempt.

So, who wins in this battle between the guardians of the Right and Left?

The Mail’s investigation clearly shows members of the PIE held positions within the NCCL, although its influence is questionable and there appears to be no solid evidence that this vile organisation influenced Harman or her husband, Jack Dromey.

However, this has clearly been a better assault on Ed Miliband’s team than its earlier attempts to label his father, Ralph, as an unpatriotic Stalinist. It reminded Westminster that no-one is better at using a journalistic battering ram than the Mail and deploying consultant editor Andrew Pierce straightaway instead of hiding behind its front pages was a smart move.

Miliband’s press team were slow to try to manage the story, but no-one speaks for Harriet Harman apart from Harman herself.

However, the deputy leader will be as unruffled as ever. Her position as a hate figure for the Mail reinforces her status in the Labour Party.

If Westminster were reduced to rubble tomorrow, two figures would be seen standing when the dust clears… Harriet Harman and the leader column of the Daily Mail.

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