Lord McAlpine: Damage of unfounded abuse allegations ‘can’t be repaired’

LAWYERS for Lord McAlpine are seeking a larger payout from ITV than the £185,000 they received from the BBC last week, they confirmed yesterday.

The former Tory politician’s legal team said they were looking to get a larger figure from ITV’s This Morning, which was thought to have until yesterday afternoon to respond to demands from his legal team.

The broadcaster sparked fury after presenter Phillip Schofield brandished a list of names of alleged abusers which he had found on the internet and handed it to the Prime Minister during a live interview, asking if he would investigate them.

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Ofcom has also launched an investigation into the incident, while ITV said that disciplinary action had been taken. The broadcaster has been contacted by Lord McAlpine’s lawyers.

ITV is on a long list of organisations and individuals who wrongly linked Lord McAlpine to a paedophile ring.

Last night, comedian Alan Davies, star of BBC2’s QI, told his 444,000-plus followers on Twitter: “I’ve just written to Lord McAlpine to apologise for retweeting his name in relation to false allegations following a BBC investigation.”

Sally Bercow, wife of Commons Speaker John Bercow, is another Twitter user whom Lord McAlpine’s lawyers are considering suing.

The peer’s solicitor, Andrew Reid, has said action will be taken against “a lot of people”.

He has also previously confirmed that a “very long list” of Twitter users had been compiled which included Sally Bercow and journalist George Monbiot, who has already apologised.

AN ITV spokesman said: “We have received correspondence from Lord McAlpine’s representatives and we will be responding in due course.”

Lawyers for the peer reached a £185,000 settlement with the BBC last week after it broadcast a botched Newsnight investigation into child abuse.

Lord McAlpine was mistakenly implicated by Newsnight’s 
2 November broadcast in a paedophile ring that targeted children at a Wrexham care home.

Although the programme did not name the peer – referring only to a senior Conservative from the Thatcher era – he was quickly identified online.

Lord McAlpine has previously said he was “delighted” to have reached a quick and early settlement with the BBC. “I have been conscious that any settlement will be paid by the licence fee-payers, and have taken that into account,” he said last week.

The peer said the damage of the Newsnight report “can’t be repaired” and he now has to live with the legacy of suspicion.

Newsnight carried a full, on-air apology for the broadcast a week later.

An official report by BBC Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie into the botched investigation concluded that Newsnight staff had failed to complete “basic journalistic checks”. He also found there was confusion about who had responsibility for “final editorial sign-off”.

Disciplinary action is being pursued over the incident.

Lord McAlpine has said the BBC could have saved “a lot of agonising and money” by simply calling him before the 
programme went out.