Lord McAlpine expected to reach settlement with BBC as he gives first interview after being wrongly linked to child sex abuse scandal


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The Independent Online

Lord McAlpine, the former Conservative politician who was wrongly implicated in allegations of child abuse in a flawed Newsnight investigation, is expected to reach a settlement with the BBC.

Lawyers for the peer indicated they were taking legal action after the programme led him being mistakenly implicated in a paedophile ring that targeted children at a care home in Wrexham in north Wales.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s The World at One, his solicitor Andrew Reid said that he was hoping to agree a settlement today.

He said: “Lord McAlpine is more than aware that the ultimate people who will paying for any monies that he may receive are in fact the licence payers, the people who really own the BBC, and he is very much aware of this and hence any agreement that is reached is tempered in the light of that.”

Although McAlpine was not named in the November 2 Newsnight programme, the report led to a flood of online accusations and speculation.

Mr Reid called for those who had named him on Twitter to come forward and apologise, warning: “We know who you are”.

In what is his first interview since the allegations, McAlpine described his “shock” after hearing the claims and added that the current situation could have been avoided if they had contacted him to offer a right of reply before the programme aired.

He said: “They could have saved themselves a lot of agonising, and money actually, if they had just made that telephone call.

“They should have called me and I would have told them exactly what they learned later on - that it was complete rubbish and that I had only ever been to Wrexham once in my life.”

“It gets into your bones, it makes you angry, and that's extremely bad for you to be angry, and it gets into your soul and you just think there is something wrong with the world.”

He also spoke of his sympathy for his accuser Steve Messham, a victim of child abuse at the home who mistakenly identified McAlpine as his attacker and thanked him for admitting his mistake.

 “I was very grateful that he said that. I actually have a deep sympathy with him. He was obviously a man who suffered a lot in his life. I've been blessed and I've been very lucky but he has had a terrible time. But it wasn't me.”

An official report into botched investigation by the BBC's Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie concluded Newsnight staff failed to complete “basic journalistic checks”.

The BBC has apologised “unreservedly” for the report. In a statement released this morning, the BBC said: “The BBC is hopeful that it can agree a settlement with Lord McAlpine today.”