Peter Tatchell, who was defeated as the Labour candidate in the 1983 Bermondsey by-election that saw Simon Hughes enter Parliament today claims that he always believed Mr Hughes had a gay past.

“It is good that Simon is finally being frank and honest about his sexuality.” Mr Tatchell said in reaction to Mr Hughes’s admission that he is bisexual. “It is a shame he felt he needed to deny it but now he has made the decision to be truthful we should leave it at that and move on.”

During the by-election, won by Mr Hughes with one of the biggest recorded swings against Labour, the then Liberal party presented him as political rivals smeared “the straight choice” while Mr Tatchell.

Mr Hughes told the BBC’s Newsnight programme: “I hope that there will never be that sort of campaign again. I have never been comfortable about the whole of that campaign, as Peter knows, and I said that to him in the past . . . Where there were things that were inappropriate or wrong, I apologise for that.”

Mr Tatchell claimed that he had known about Mr Hughes’s sexuality for 23 years, “Based on information (my campaign) received we had a very strong suspicion that Simon was gay despite the homophobic campaign against me.

“The Labour campaign team took a decision not to retaliate. We decided it was important to pursue a clean, principled campaign based on policies not people’s private lives.”

But Mr Tatchell, now a Green Party member, revealed to PinkNews.co.uk earlier this month, that it’s time to “forgive and forget,” he said: “Simon Hughes is the best of the Lib Dem leadership candidates. If I was a party member, he’d get my vote.” He was also pointed out that Mr Hughes had never behaved or voted hypocritically in parliament over gay issues and as such, Mr Tatchell’s group Outrage! would not have considered outing him.