Jack Dromey accuses the Daily Mail and insists he took on PIE
Jack Dromey has accused the Daily Mail of "dirty, gutter journalism" over its articles questioning links between a civil liberties group he used to work for and paedophile rights campaigners.
The Labour MP said it was not true that he had failed to challenge the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE).
The group was granted affiliate status in 1975 by the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL).
Mr Dromey said PIE was "vile" and that he "stood up and took them on".
End Quote Jack Dromey
My position was clear and unequivocal. These men were loathsome. Their practices were vile. Their organisation was despicable”
The Daily Mail has run a series of articles questioning the links between the group and the work, more than 30 years ago, of three prominent Labour figures - Mr Dromey, his wife and deputy leader of the party Harriet Harman and former health secretary Patricia Hewitt.
On Thursday Ms Hewitt apologised for having "got it wrong".
She said the civil liberties group had been "naive" about PIE and should have taken stronger measures to protect its own integrity.Shameful smear
In his first broadcast interview since the row began, Mr Dromey said: "As soon as I was elected chairman of the National Council for Civil Liberties, I defeated them [PIE] by a massive majority at the annual general meeting.
"They demanded the right of freedom of speech for paedophiles. I said there was no such thing as rights for paedophiles; there are only rights for children not to be abused by sex abusers.
"It is an absolutely shameful smear now to suggest that somehow either Harriet [Harman, Mr Dromey's wife] or myself are apologists for paedophilia.
"It is a low moment for British journalism."Election coming
Mr Dromey added: "My position was clear and unequivocal. These men were loathsome. Their practices were vile. Their organisation was despicable. I am a lifelong opponent of men who abuse children."
Asked why the Daily Mail was drawing attention to the issue now, Mr Dromey said: "There is a general election coming. First they attack Ed Miliband's dad; now they attack Harriet and myself. This is dirty, dirty, gutter journalism."
The Daily Mail said it did not have anyone currently available to respond to Mr Dromey's comments.
The Mail has said Ms Harman "tried to water down child pornography laws" during her time at the NCCL.
It has said she should apologise unreservedly and fully explain the links between the now disbanded PIE and the civil liberties group.
Ms Harman has said she "regrets" the links between the NCCL and PIE but insisted she has "nothing to apologise for".