The bloggers have the wrong man: former Tory treasurer Lord McAlpine prepares legal action against 'wholly false and defamatory' child abuse claims

 

Solicitors for Lord McAlpine have said they are preparing to take legal action against media who they claim defamed him by suggesting he was the senior Tory figure from the Thatcher era involved of sexually abusing young people in a North Wales children's home.

In a statement, Lord McAlpine's representatives said: "Following the statement released by Lord McAlpine earlier today, RMPI LLP, solicitors to Lord McAlpine would like to confirm that they are in the process of preparing writs and will be taking legal action against all media who have defamed Lord McAlpine's reputation and published defamatory statements."

The 70-year-old grandee, who was party treasurer and a powerful figure within the Conservative government in the 1980s, had earlier described the claims as “wholly false and defamatory”.

The life peer made the extraordinary decision to end days of fevered speculation on Twitter and elsewhere after it was reported in a national newspaper that he was misidentified by a victim at Bryn Estyn, the Wrexham care home at the centre of the allegations.

A list of alleged paedophiles was handed to the Prime Minister live on television by This Morning presenter Philip Schofield.  An ambushed David Cameron immediately criticised what he described as a “witch hunt” that he feared could turn against gay people as well as senior Tories.

In a lengthy statement Lord McAlpine said: “I must publicly tackle these slurs and set the record straight”.

He added: “It is obvious that there must be a substantial number of people who saw that I had been identified in the internet publications as this guilty man and who subsequently saw or heard the broadcasts or read the newspapers in question and reasonably inferred that the allegation of guilt in those broadcasts and newspapers attached to me.”

Three-times married Lord McAlpine, who now lives in Puglia, Italy and is in poor health, said there had been a “media frenzy” surrounding him and had acted before he was publicly named as the suspect. He said that by doing so he had not given up the right to sue for defamation and was considering his next legal move.

He said that he had sympathy for his accuser – care home abuse victim Steve Messham – who made the allegations without publicly naming the construction tycoon on Newsnight last week.

”I wish to make it clear that I do not suggest that Mr Messham is malicious in making the allegations of sexual abuse about me. He is referring to a terrible period of his life in the 1970's or 1980's and what happened to him will have affected him ever since. If he does think I am the man who abused him all those years ago I can only suggest that he is mistaken and that he has identified the wrong person,” he said.

But Lord McAlpine, who was made a life peer as Baron McAlpine of West Green in 1984, said he had been to Wrexham only once when he visited the local Constituency Conservative Association whilst deputy chairman and that at all times he was accompanied by Conservative Central Office agent Stuart Newman, who has since died. He also denied ever visiting the children’s home or any other similar institution.

The peer also denied other claims which have been repeated extensively across the internet in recent days. “I have never stayed in a hotel in or near Wrexham, I did not own a Rolls Royce, have never had a 'Gold card' or 'Harrods card' and never wear aftershave, all of which have been alleged. I did not sexually abuse Mr Messham or any other residents of the children's home in Wrexham. “

He said his lawyers were now seeking to find people who could remember the visit to corroborate his version of events. He said he was willing to travel to Britain to meet the Chief Constable of North Wales, Mark Polin and Keith Bristow, the director general of the National Crime Agency, who has been charged by the Home Secretary Theresa May with exploring why previous inquiries failed to examine whether abuse took place outside the care home.

He said he was confident this would “eliminate me from their inquiries and so that any unwarranted suspicion can be removed from me”.

Scots-born Alistair McAlpine is the son of construction tycoon Sir Robert McAlpine – himself a baronet known as Concrete Bob. He entered the family business and later founded his own publishing house.

He first met Mrs Thatcher at a dinner party in 1975 when she was Leader of the Opposition. The relationship between the two flourished and he was appointed treasurer revolutionising the party’s finances.

His biography, The Servant , described his role securing Mrs Thatcher’s three electoral successes. He later resigned from the Tory Party joining the Referendum Party after falling out with John Major over Europe although he came back in 2010.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future