Gloria De Piero Topless Photos Would Only Humiliate Papers, Not Labour MP, Says Louise Mensch

Tabloids seeking topless photos of Labour's women's spokesman Gloria de Piero - taken when she was 15 - would humiliate the paper involved and not the MP herself, former Tory MP Louise Mensch has said.

De Piero has called on the media to "call off the hunt" for the photos - taken when she was just 15 or 16 - after being told that thousands of pounds were being offered for them.

Mensch said the pictures should not be printed, but added that if they were it would only draw attention to the Ashfield MP's "courageous and dignified" reaction to the threat of exposure.

Louise Mensch has praised the way Gloria de Piero has handled the tabloids

Mensch responded to the threat of stories about drunkenness and drug-taking in her youth by going public with an admission.

She said she believed voters were now ready to accept that MPs might not have "squeaky-clean" pasts, meaning they could be "blackmail-free" by being open about misbehaviour when they were young.

The former Corby MP told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "She doesn't think they should be printed and I agree with her completely. She says she was 15, which I think is not of an age that one should be printing those kinds of pictures.

"I don't think it matters whether they print the pictures or not. If they do it will only be to her credit. Her dignified response and refusal to renounce her past only speaks well of her character and her guts and that's the kind of people we want in politics.

"Women in particular, I think, will be cheered by her refusal to be cowed by this quasi-sexual or moralistic assault on her behaviour as a 15-year-old girl.

"Publish and be damned. It would be a humiliation to whoever publishes them and not to her. She has nothing to be ashamed of for whatever she chose to do at 15 years old.

"People should respect her privacy, but if they were to come out, I think most people other than Gloria would say, 'Who gives a damn?', and it would only draw attention to her courageous and dignified reaction to the threat."

Looking back to her own response to the threat of media stories about her youth, Mensch added: "I hope that what I did back then - admitting it and saying essentially, `So what? Politicians are allowed to have a life before politics, especially when they are very young' - might have provided a model.

"If we are coming to the age of the blackmail-free politician, at least as regards something they did ages ago in their youth, that can only be a good thing.

"I think Britain has grown up a bit. Voters have realised that politicians aren't squeaky-clean people without lives. Most of the people listening to Today this morning will also have done some stupid things as students or teenagers, and they have no reason to expect that their politicians are any different."

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