UK

Simon Danczuk Defends Sexting Row With 17-Year-Old Girl Saying 'I Prefer Young Women'

05/01/2016 08:10 GMT | Updated 05/01/2016 09:59 GMT

Simon Danczuk has responded to criticism for sending sexually explicit messages to a teenager by saying he "prefers younger women".

The under-pressure Rochdale MP admitted that Sophena Houlihan, the then 17-year-old he flirted with on social media, was "absolutely" too young for him.

He accepted the action was "inappropriate" but defended previously made "icky" comments which saw him say a penchant for young women was not dissimilar to being attracted to those with a certain hair colour.

"I think you have to see the context of this," Danczuk said in an interview broadcast late on Monday evening.

"This young woman got in touch with me some months ago. During the course of several months we had exchanges across social media and just at a low point in my life in September she sent me some sexual texts.

"I responded accordingly and i shouldn't have responded - wholly inappropriate, no doubt about that."

Probed by Newsnight's Nick Hopkins, Danczuk responded to claims it was "icky" comparing a preference in age for a liking of women with one hair colour by listing a string of relationships with women many years his junior.

"I think it probably does but I'm just making the point, I can't deny the fact that I prefer young women and different people have different preferences.

"My first wife was 10 years younger than me, my second wife was 17 years younger than me, my last girlfriend was 17 years younger than me.

"I was just making that point but of course I accept I've made a mistake and i've apologised for that, which I think is important."

Pushed by Hopkins to answer whether "a 17-year-old is too young for a man of your age, 49", Danczuk responded "absolutely".

He also laid into how coverage of his conversation with teenager Houlihan, who is now 18, had played out in the media.

Denying any accusation of having "groomed" the young girl, Danczuk hit out: "The only reason it appears like that is the tabloid newspapers have decided to report it in that way.

"They've conflated several months of pleasant exchanges into what appears to be from then into just a few days of activity."

But the interview failed to sway critics, with former Newsnight editor Ian Katz and Sunday Times columnist Camilla Long piling in to wonder what moved Danczuk to offer the defence he did.

See the full interview here:

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