A top judge campaigned to support a paedophile group that tried to legalise sex with children, a newspaper claims.
The judge told the BBC he had “no memory” of this, but had in the 1970s been involved with a civil liberties group to which PIE was affiliated.
He said he had never supported PIE and child abuse was “wholly wrong”.
The Daily Mail has run a series of articles questioning the links between PIE and civil liberties group the National Council for Civil Liberties during the 1970s and early 1980s.
PIE had called for greater tolerance and paedophile “rights” and campaigned for a lowering of the age of consent to 10.
Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman, her husband and fellow Labour MP Jack Dromey and former Labour health secretary Patricia Hewitt were all prominent figures in the NCCL, which granted PIE affiliate status in 1975.
Ms Hewitt has apologised for having “got it wrong”, while Mr Dromey has accused the Daily Mail of “dirty, gutter journalism”. Ms Harman has said she “regrets” the links between the two groups but she has “nothing to apologise for”.
The Mail on Sunday said its investigation had found that Lord Justice Fulford, a member of the Privy Council, was a founder member of a campaign set up to defend PIE against criminal charges.
The newspaper also claimed he:
- Planned demonstrations outside courts where defendants were on trial
- Wrote an article claiming PIE was a way for paedophiles to “make friends and offer each other mutual support”
- Sought help with the campaign from future Labour minister Ms Hewitt, then in charge of the NCCL
- Attended meetings with PIE founder Tom O’Carroll, who was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison in 2006 for distributing child abuse images.
- Was praised by PIE for “coming to its defence”
In a statement, Lord Justice Fulford said he had been “briefly involved” with the NCCL and the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, among other civil liberty campaign groups.
He said his sole concern was – and remained – the way individuals were treated in the judicial process, despite some of their views.
The Mail on Sunday said Lord Justice Fulford was a founder member of an organisation called Conspiracy Against Public Morals, which it says was set up to defend PIE leaders facing criminal charges.
Lord Justice Fulford said he had “no memory” of being involved with the “foundation or the detail of the work of this campaign”.
He added that any contribution he made would have related to concerns about the nature of the charge of conspiracy to corrupt public morals, “which could be used against a wide variety of people in potentially inappropriate ways”.
“I have always been deeply opposed to paedophilia and I never supported the views or objectives of the Paedophile Information Exchange,” he said.
Lord Justice Fulford said he attended several meetings of the NCCL’s gay rights committee, at which Mr O’Carroll was “sometimes present”, and this had left him feeling “extremely uncomfortable”.
“On reflection, the NCCL gay rights committee should never have allowed members of PIE to attend any of its meetings, and a clear and real separation should have been created between the two organisations.
“I am very sorry for what happened. I have never espoused or in any way supported the objectives of PIE – the abuse of children – which I consider wholly wrong.”
The judge said there had been “nothing to report” to the Lord Chancellor’s department “at the time of my various appointments”.
Last year, Lord Justice Fulford was nominated as an Appeal Court judge by Prime Minister David Cameron and was appointed to the Privy Council.
He previously sat as a judge at the International Criminal Court, at The Hague, and was one of the judges who handed down the court’s first judgment in 2012.