Lord McAlpine has spoken of how being falsely accused of paedophilia “gets into your bones” and “rots your life”
The former Tory treasurer and adviser to Baroness Thatcher said it was a terrifying experience and one which has coloured every day from the moment he wakes up.
“I wake up in the morning and I’ll still wonder about this thing. It’ll still be on my mind. It becomes part of your conversation, it becomes part of your life,” he said.
“It gets in to your bones. It makes you angry. And that’s extremely bad for you to be angry. And it gets into your soul. You just think there’s something wrong with the world.”
Lord McAlpine, who is 70 and has “a very dicky heart”, said that he was in a state of shock when he realised that he had been identified publicly and that his name was known and reviled around the world.
“Boris [Johnson] got it right. There is nothing as bad as this that you can do to people,” he said. “Because they [paedophiles] are quite rightly figures of public hatred. And suddenly to find yourself a figure of public hatred, unjustifiably, is terrifying.”
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme he added: “It can’t be repaired. It can be repaired to a point. But there is a British proverb which is insidious and awful where people say ‘there’s no smoke without a fire’...it’s very difficult and so this is the legacy that sadly the BBC have left me with.
“To suddenly find I was mixed up in all this and I didn’t know what Newsnight were going to say. It really was a horrendous shock. What really shattered me was when all of a sudden this has spread all over the world. It’s a bit frightening when you suddenly find the depth of knowledge about this.”
He said that in some ways the damage was worse because it was committed by the BBC: “Because strangely enough, all over the world, people believe the BBC to be one, or possibly the only, honest voice.”
He expressed sympathy for Steven Messham, the abuse victim who issued a public retraction and apology once he realised he had mistakenly identified Lord McAlpine as his abuser.
“I was very grateful that he said this. I actually have deep sympathy with him. He’s obviously a man who has suffered a lot in his life. I’ve been blessed in my life. I’ve been very lucky. But he’s had a terrible time. But it wasn’t me.”
He criticised the BBC for broadcasting the libel, having failed even to ask him if the claims were true: “They should have called me and I would have told them exactly what they learnt later on. They could have saved themselves a lot of agonising and money, actually, if they’d just made that telephone call.”
Paying tribute to the people who have supported him he said: “I was very lucky I’ve got a fine wife who was very good about this whole thing and very helpful in dealing with it.
“Of course she was upset, she was furious... I will feel better not from settlements, but from my wife, my family, my friends. The people I don’t even know who’ve written to me. That’s what makes you feel better.”