LONDON, March 2 (UPI) -- A former British cabinet minister tried to defend a policy lowering the age of consent in Britain in the 1970s to 10, a letter indicates.
England's labor government is dealing with a controversy regarding the role of senior cabinet ministers under Prime Minister Tony Blair, who were members of the National Council for Civil Liberties when the organization had links to an affiliate, the Pedophile Information Exchange.
Details have emerged in a letter in which Patricia Hewitt, later health secretary in Blair's cabinet, argued in favor of a reduction in the age of consent in Britain, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
The development has added to pressure for a full disclosure of the links between the two groups, the newspaper said, adding the Pedophile Information Exchange lobbied, in the 1970s, for the age of consent to be lowered to four, and several members were later jailed for child sex offenses.
Last week Hewitt apologized for the links between the two organizations, saying: "As general secretary [of the NCCL] I take responsibility for the mistakes we made," adding she should have taken stronger steps to separate the missions of the two groups.
"I do not support reducing the age of consent," she added.
Pressure has grown for a full review of the NCCLs involvement in lobbying efforts for a change in the law regarding sexual consent, and the role played by Labor ministers, the newspaper said.