Harriet Harman has said she has nothing to apologise for over the involvement of a civil rights body she used to work for with a paedophile rights campaign.
The Labour Party deputy leader said she had never "colluded" with the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) while she was legal officer of the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL) in the 1970s.
And she said that she believed that she was now entitled to an apology from The Daily Mail for running a campaign of "smear and innuendo" against her.
Ms Harman expressed "regret" that PIE had been allowed to affiliate to the NCCL, but insisted it did not justify the attacks against her.
"It is wrong to say on the basis of that that I was colluding in it and I must apologise for my collusion and my involvement with paedophilia because there was no such collusion and no such involvement," she said in a pooled interview with ITV News.
"It is actually not me that should be apologising for something that I haven't done. It is The Daily Mail that should be apologising for their smear and innuendo."
Ms Harman said the organisational structure of the NCCL at the time meant that any organisation could affiliate to it.
"NCCL had over a thousand affiliates and anybody - any organisation or any individual - could join and that is the organisational fact of the matter," she said.
"I regret that because of their structure any organisation could join but that did not affect my work. The policy of the NCCL was set at the AGM and my work was in no way affected by influence of paedophiles and that is what the Daily Mail is trying to create an inference and smear about."
Ms Harman said the NCCL had "turned against" PIE before she took up her post.
She said: "I'm not going to apologise because I've got nothing to apologise for. I very much regret that this vile organisation, PIE, ever existed and that it ever had anything to do with NCCL, but it did not affect my work at NCCL.
"They had been pushed to the margins before I actually went to NCCL and to allege that I was involved in collusion with paedophilia or apologising for paedophilia is quite wrong and is a smear."
She added: "There had been a big argument within the National Council for Civil Liberties in 1976 where PIE were trying to put forward their views and influence NCCL and NCCL pushed them out, would not even let them speak at their annual general meeting, and turned against them and that happened before I went there.
"So, when I went there, they had no influence on my work, which was wide-ranging work."
Pressed on whether it was a colossal misjudgment to work for NCCL, she replied: "It was regrettable that they (PIE) even existed. It was regrettable that they had anything to do with NCCL ever.
"But it is not true that it influenced my work at the time I was at NCCL or that I ever apologised for or colluded with paedophilia because that is the smear."
Daily Mail consultant editor Andrew Pierce said Ms Harman and her husband Jack Dromey should have done more to end the links between the two organisations.
He told BBC Radio 4's World at One: "Their offence was not to publicly disassociate from this organisation.
"It matters enormously that they did not do more to get rid of this horrible, disgusting organisation."
He said Ms Harman had been one of the politicians making the "loudest noise" about the Jimmy Savile scandal, demanding transparency from the organisations involved.
"She has not applied that same high quality of standard to her own work at the National Council for Civil Liberties."
Ms Harman has attacked the Daily Mail for publishing photographs of young girls in bikinis, tweeting this morning "w hen it comes to decency and sexualisation of children, would you take lessons from the Daily Mail?"
Mr Pierce said the Daily Mail was a family newspaper and the pictures were images that could be seen on "any British beach".
"To try and conflate those pictures of girls in a bikini on a beach with the grotesque activities of the Paedophile Information Exchange.."