UK

BBC crisis: Lord McAlpine 'terrified by public hatred'

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Media captionLord McAlpine said being wrongly implicated "gets into your bones... it makes you angry"

Tory peer Lord McAlpine said it was "terrifying" to find himself "a figure of public hatred" after he was wrongly implicated in child abuse allegations.

He spoke after a BBC Newsnight report on child abuse in north Wales care homes led to allegations on the internet that he was a paedophile.

The ex-Tory party treasurer told BBC Radio 4's The World at One he should have been contacted before broadcast.

He also said the BBC had left him with a "legacy" that "can't be repaired".

Some of those involved in deciding to run the report on care homes in north Wales face disciplinary measures.

Lord McAlpine's lawyer told the BBC that a number of prominent people who had named his client on the internet - including Guardian columnist George Monbiot - had already apologised.

Media watchdog Ofcom has confirmed it is investigating both Newsnight and ITV's This Morning programme over the allegations.

ITV said "appropriate disciplinary action" had been taken after a presenter inadvertently broadcast a list of names of alleged child abusers taken from the internet.

Although Lord McAlpine was not named by Newsnight, the report led to a flood of accusations about him online.

The BBC, which has apologised "unreservedly" for the report, said it was working on the final details of a settlement with Lord McAlpine. It had earlier said it expected to reach a settlement on Thursday.

'Extremely bad'

Lord McAlpine said he had been "in a state of shock" after hearing of the allegations.

"I was in southern Italy. I don't have television, I don't get newspapers, we don't have the internet. To suddenly find I was mixed up in all this, and I didn't know what Newsnight was going to say, it really was a horrendous shock."

He added the BBC "should have called me" and he would have told them "that it was complete rubbish".

"They could have saved themselves a lot of agonising and money, actually, if they'd just made that telephone call."

He said "there is nothing as bad as this that you can do to people" as accusing them of being a paedophile..

"They are quite rightly figures of public hatred - and suddenly to find yourself a figure of public hatred, unjustifiably, is terrifying," he added.

The peer was asked about London Mayor Boris Johnson's comment that to call someone a paedophile was to "consign them to the lowest circle of hell - and while they're still alive".

He replied: "Absolutely. I think it describes pretty much what happened to me in the first few days of this event."

Asked if his reputation could ever be restored he said: "No, it can't be repaired.... This is the legacy that sadly the BBC have left me with."

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Media captionAndrew Reid: It's easier to come forward and see us and apologise

'Clearly wrong'

Lord McAlpine's solicitor Andrew Reid said he hoped an agreement would be reached with the BBC on Thursday, but said his client was aware any payment would ultimately come from licence fee payers.

The BBC's statement said: "The BBC is hopeful that it can agree a settlement with Lord McAlpine today."

Mr Reid urged those who had named Lord McAlpine on the social media site Twitter to come forward.

He said Sally Bercow, wife of Commons Speaker John Bercow, had not yet been in touch to apologise for her tweets.

She tweeted on Thursday that she maintained her tweet was not libellous, "just foolish".

Mr Reid confirmed several prominent people had already apologised, including Monbiot who said: "I'm feeling worse about this than about anything else I have ever done - though I realise that is as nothing by comparison to what you have gone through with the help of my stupidity and thoughtlessness."

Mr Reid told the World at One: "It's easier to come forward and see us and apologise and arrange to settle with us because, in the long run, this is the cheapest and best way to bring this matter to an end."

He also confirmed ITV's This Morning programme had been sent a letter.

In a live interview several days after Newsnight's abuse report, ITV presenter Phillip Schofield handed the prime minister a list of names he said were being mentioned online as alleged paedophiles.

Mr Schofield later apologised amid suggestions the names could be seen by viewers due to a "misjudged camera angle".

In a statement on Thursday, ITV said it had investigated the "mistake" and that "appropriate disciplinary action" had been taken.

ITV News' UK editor Lucy Manning said: "Phillip Schofield plus some of the This Morning production staff have been disciplined." Schofield appeared on Thursday's programme as normal.

The full interview with Lord McAlpine was broadcast on the World at One on BBC Radio 4. Listen again on iPlayer Radio.

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