Jack Irvine spoke out against Tony Blair’s moves to equalise the age of consent to 16 for gay men, suggesting in a 1998 article for the Mirror: “You know the tired old argument - if you’re old enough to get married, you’re old enough for a slobbering old queer to have his evil way with you.”
Irvine also wrote: “And remember, the next time an old fruit gets caught with his hands in a 14-year-old’s pants, he will probably get off when he lisps, ‘But I thought the boy looked 16’.”
Two years later, Irvine, who is also an ex-Scottish Sun editor, went on to run Brian Souter’s controversial ‘Keep The Clause’, campaign to retain Section 28, which banned the “promotion” of homosexuality by local authorities.
The campaign failed and Section 28 was repealed in 2000 in Scotland and three years later in the rest of the UK.
Tony Blair’s Labour government passed the sexual offences (amendment) act in 2000, which equalised the age of consent for gay men.
Around that time in May 2000, Irvine offered a defence of his 1998 Mirror article in a letter to Scottish newspaper the Herald, insisting he had been trying to “highlight the dangers of overly-liberal legislation encouraging boys barely into their teens being swept up into a homosexual lifestyle”.
He criticised someone who had complained about the article, by insisting that they “might have a gentler, more polite name for older men who attempt to seduce young, impressionable teenage males and put their health, and possibly lives, at risk”.
“For the moment, I’ll stick to ‘slobbering queers’ until I can think of something more damning,” he added.
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Irvine insisted he was not homophobic, claiming the debate was about “the protection of children and impressionable young adults”, also accusing veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of “sexual anarchy”.
Irvine’s company Media House announced on Monday that the former newspaper editor and PR firm chairman had been hired as the Brexit Party’s director of campaign communications for the December 12 general election.
Women and Equalities Minister Liz Truss, who sits in the cabinet, told HuffPost UK: “These kinds of slurs against gay people are vile.
“As minister for women and equalities I want us to live in a society where people are free to live their lives how they see fit, and not be castigated or bullied by ignorant bigots.”
Former Labour strategist Blair McDougall said Irvine had “found his place with this bunch of racists and extremists”.
The Brexit Party, which is led by Nigel Farage, has been approached for comment.
Irvine told HuffPost UK it was “a 21 year-old story taken out of context”. “Is that the best you can do?,” he added.