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BBC reaches deal with libelled Lord McAlpine

Man falsely implicated by broadcaster in child sex abuse case to be paid $300,000 after two sides reach settlement.
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2012 02:03
The mistaken report has caused turmoil within the BBC, leading to the resignation of its director general [AFP]

The BBC has reached a settlement with a former senior Conservative politician wrongly implicated in a child sex abuse scandal.

A statement issued by the UK broadcaster on Thursday said: "The BBC has agreed terms with Lord McAlpine to settle his claim of libel against the Corporation.

"The settlement is comprehensive and reflects the gravity of the allegations that were wrongly made."

The politician will receive about $300,000 in damages and the terms of the agreement will be announced in court in a few days, his lawyers said.

McAlpine, Conservative party treasurer under former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, said: "I am 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 in reaching agreement with the BBC.

"We will now be continuing to seek settlements from other organisations that have published defamatory remarks and individuals who have used Twitter to defame me."

McAlpine, 70, expressed sympathy for the sex abuse victim who had mistakenly told the BBC that McAlpine was the culprit, pointing out that the victim had suffered greatly because of the abuse.

The politician, who seemed shaken by the accusations against him, said: "To find yourself a figure of public hatred, unjustifiably, is terrifying."

The BBC has already apologised for linking McAlpine, a member of the House of Lords, to a child sex abuse that happened decades ago in Wales.

The report broadcast by the BBC's flagship current affairs show Newsnight did not name McAlpine but he was quickly  identified on social networking sites.

It emerged that an abuse victim who had implicated McAlpine in the programme had never been shown a photograph of him.

Only after the report was broadcast did he realise McAlpine was not the man who had assaulted him.

Turmoil

The false allegations, coming as the BBC was under intense scrutiny over its decision to spike a report about child abuse claims surrounding Jimmy Savile, one of its top hosts, plunged the world's largest broadcaster into one of the worst crises in its history.

The mistaken report, broadcast nearly two weeks ago, has caused turmoil within BBC management ranks and led to the resignation of George Entwistle, its director general.

The corporation has been heavily criticised for deciding not to report allegations of shocking abuses committed by Savile, who died last year aged 84.

Police said on Thursday that the number of victims in the Savile investigation had risen to 450 from the figure of 300 it gave last month.

Although the vast majority of allegations are against the former presenter, the Scotland Yard probe has widened to include other figures in the entertainment industry.

Former glam rock star and convicted paedophile Gary Glitter, comedian Freddie Starr, the former BBC radio presenter Dave Lee Travis and a 73-year-old man have been arrested and bailed in connection with the investigation.

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Source:
Agencies
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