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
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?