ANDREA Leadsom, the former Tory leadership hopeful, has claimed men should not be hired as nannies as they could be paedophiles.

The MP, who was given the environment brief in Theresa May’s Cabinet, made the comments in an interview with The Times last week — but the paper only published the remarks yesterday.

It was the same interview that effectively ended Leadsom’s bid for the party top job, when she claimed having children gave her an edge over rival May.

Leadsom said having children gave her a very real stake in the future of the country, compared to May, who had only recently spoken about her sadness at not having had children.

In the interview, the new environment secretary said: “As an employer we are not — let us face it — most of us do not employ men as nannies, most of us do not.

“Now you can call that sexist, I call that cautious and very sensible when you look at the stats. Your odds are stacked against you if you employ a man. We know paedophiles are attracted to working with children. I am sorry but they are the facts.”

Industry estimates suggest five per cent of nannies are men, while only two per cent of the day nursery workforce is male.

A survey by the Pre-school Learning Alliance of 1,200 mothers and fathers who use childcare found that 97.9 per cent of parents were happy for men to work with children aged three to five in day nurseries. About 89 per cent were happy for men to work with younger children from birth to age three.

Ruth Campbell, of Au Pair Ecosse, who has a number of male nannies on her books, said Leadsom’s comments were ridiculous.

She said: “If you are going to say men are not suitable for looking after children, what about fathers? They are male as well. It suggests a great degree of mistrust of the male sex.”

Campbell said the only problem she has ever had with a male nanny was a young Spanish man who did not like the weather in Scotland and spent most nights phoning his mother.

Former shadow education secretary Lucy Powell told The Times: “These comments show an enormous lack of judgment on Andrea’s part.

“She should know as well as I know that not only are men just as capable of doing childcare jobs but we should want to encourage more men into those jobs as they can bring other benefits.”

LibDem leader Tim Farron branded Leadsom’s comments ignorant and called for her to be sacked.

He said: “Andrea Leadsom has let yet another of her masks slip. I have to admire The Times – journalists are there to hold politicians to account and this interview was clearly a masterclass in doing just that.

“These remarks are stupid, ignorant and not ones any minister should be making.

“Over the last day Theresa May has shown she is willing to relieve ministers of their duties and she must do so again now.

“It is inconceivable that somebody who holds such offensive, ignorant views should be sat around the cabinet table.”

The PM’s official spokesman said: “These were personal views that were expressed, and she, as in Andrea Leadsom, has said that she employed a male nanny for five years, and does not think that men, or fathers, should not be nannies.”