Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

PIE controversy: Lord Justice Fulford apologises for NCCL gay rights link to Paedophile Information Exchange

But civil rights lawyer says he has no memory of 1970s campaign to defend paedophiles

A judge accused by The Mail on Sunday of helping to found a campaign in the 1970s that supported members of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) when they faced criminal charges has said he has “no memory” of the campaign.

Lord Justice Fulford insisted on Sunday that he had not endorsed the PIE, which called for the age of consent to be reduced to 10, and that child abuse was “wholly wrong”.

The newspaper had claimed the Privy Council member had been praised by the PIE for “coming to its defence” when members faced criminal charges and had planned demonstrations outside courthouses when defendants were appearing.

Lord Justice Fulford did confirm he had been involved with the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL), a group which in recent weeks has been criticised for its links with PIE during the 1970s and 1980s.

The Mail On Sunday claimed Lord Justice Fulford, who sat on the NCCL’s gay rights committee, had worked on a campaign to defend PIE members when brought to court. It was also claimed by the newspaper that he had attended the same NCCL meetings as PIE chairman Tom O’Carroll, who was jailed for two-and-a-half years in 2006 for offences relating to indecent images of children.

Lord Justice Fulford said on Sunday that he had felt “extremely uncomfortable” when attending the same meetings as Mr O’Carroll. He said: “I have always been deeply opposed to paedophilia and I never supported the views or objectives of the Paedophile Information Exchange. I attended a few meetings of the NCCL’s gay rights committee. I remember that for a short period Tom O’Carroll was sometimes present, which left me feeling extremely uncomfortable.

“In the main, I provided some legal advice in the context of general civil liberties objections to the wide-ranging charge of conspiracy to corrupt public morals.”

He added: “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.”

Last year, Lord Justice Fulford was nominated as an Appeal Court judge by 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.