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.
"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.
"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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