Patricia Hewitt 'called for age of consent to be lowered to 10'

A civil rights group press release from 1976 with only the name of ex-Labour minister Patricia Hewitt on it called for the age of consent to be lowered to 10, The Sun claims. She has apologised for the organisation's links to paedophile campaigners.

No 10: Hewitt's apology 'the right approach'

Prime Minister David Cameron believes Patricia Hewitt's apology over the NCCL's links to paedophile campaigners was "the right approach", Number 10 said.

Patricia Hewitt said she did not support reducing the age of consent. Credit: Jeff Moore/Empics Entertainment

Pressure continues to mount on Harriet Harman to follow Ms Hewitt's example and apologise with Tory defence minister Anna Soubry telling BBC1's Question Time the Labour deputy leader had handled the story "very badly."

"If she had just come out and apologised, it would have gone away. I don't think she has done herself any favours. Neither has Jack Dromey," she said.

Asked if Mr Cameron agreed, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: "It's a matter for Harriet Harman but the PM thinks that what Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti and Patricia Hewitt have done is the right approach."

Read: Hewitt: I do not support reducing age of consent

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Hewitt: I take responsibility for mistakes we made

Patricia Hewitt said that as general secretary of the NCCL in the 1970s, she took responsibility for the mistakes that had been made at that time.

The former Labour cabinet minister, who said she had been away for the past 12 days while the controversy was raging in the the press, said any suggestion that she had condoned or supported the "vile crimes" of child abusers was completely untrue.

Patrica Hewitt (R) pictured alongside Harriet Harman at a Liberty press conference in 1990 Credit: PA

"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'," she said.

"As general secretary then, I take responsibility for the mistakes we made. I got it wrong on PIE and I apologise for having done so.

Read: NCCL 'naive and wrong' over links with the Paedophile Information Exchange

"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."

These were her first public comments since the latest controversy over The Mail's claims that the National Council for Civil Liberties (now Liberty) had alleged historic links to PIE, a paedophile rights campaign.

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Patricia Hewitt: NCCL was naive & wrong over PIE

Former Labour Cabinet minister Patricia Hewitt has said the National Council for Civil Liberties (now Liberty) was "naive and wrong" to accept the claims by the Paedophile Information Exchange that it was a campaigning and counselling organisation.

Watch: Ex-PIE chair 'confident Harriet Harman was aware of situation'

Patricia Hewitt has finally spoken out about the NCCL's links to the Paedophile Information Exchange Credit: PA

Watch: Harriet Harman: I have fought for 30 years against these people