I'm no paedophile, says French minister who had sex with boys

The French Culture minister, Frédéric Mitterrand, last night denied paying for sex with underage Asian boys and rejected accusations that he wrote a book justifying sex tourism.

The openly gay politician rejected calls from opposition parties for his resignation, saying his partners at Thai brothels were consenting adults. He said: "I absolutely condemn sexual tourism, which is shameful, and I condemn paedophilia, which I have never practised in any way whatsoever."

In an emotional interview on France's most-watched news bulletin, Mr Mitterand accused his critics of jumping to false conclusions after reading his 2005 memoir The Bad Life, in which he wrote of liaisons with prostitutes that he described as "young boys".

His remarks were seized upon hy his political opponents this week after he defended the film-maker Roman Polanski, who faces extradition from Switzerland to the US on charges that he had sex with a girl of 13 in 1977.

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