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Sunday, 1 August 2004

image for Portillo admits anti-abortion past
Bad Hair (and Nose) Day for Michael Portillo

Conservative MP Michael Portillo, has attempted to "clear the decks" by admitting to an anti-abortion past. The announcement comes just months after the former defence secretary announced he was quitting politics and hoping to land a job in television.

Cynics have questioned the timing of his announcement, coming amid popular calls for a lowering of the abortion time-limit. Meanwhile, pro-life campaigners have attacked Portillo as "hypocritical" for voting in favour of abortion in Commons' votes.

He revealed his anti-abortion past in an interview with The Sunday Times, which took place in July but was only published on Sunday, after getting "fed up with all the innuendo".

"People were calling me foetus-lover behind my back,' claimed Portillo.

Mr Portillo, who says he is now happily pro-abortion, was asked detailed questions about "slurs" about his anti-abortion politics while at Peterhouse College, Cambridge University in the early 1970s.

"I will say what I want to say," he said. "I had some anti-abortion experiences as a young person."

‘So what?'

Asked on Sunday morning whether he believed his prospective employers, the BBC, were tolerant enough to accept his revelation, Mr Portillo said: "I very much hope so."

He added: "I think if I read this about somebody else, my reaction would be to say ‘so what'. I hope that may be other people's reaction but we'll see."

Mr Portillo has insisted that "nothing of this sort" had happened while he had previously been in television.

He said: "When I was in television as a young child actor in an advert for toothpaste, I was dogged by rumour. If I go back to television I'm not going to have all that again."

A spokesman for the BBC said: "The BBC is an equal opportunities employer and we are very keen to employ anyone who has a gay, black, or anti-abortion past.

"We were recently concerned that Dale Winton's open homosexuality was falling out of fashion. Portillo would be his ideal replacement. I'm sure he'll feel at home on claptrap Saturday night television."

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