According to the Daily Mirror, Alastair McAlpine is presently engaged in the largest libel case in British history.
He intends to sue about 10,000 people, unless they come forward and offer him an apology and a settlement. Maybe more.
Their crime is either to have tweeted or to have retweeted an allegation that Lord McAlpine was one of the men who raped Steven Messham. Lord McAlpine was not the “McAlpine” apparently identified by the police to Steven Messham: it seems that was probably Alastair McAlpine’s cousin Jimmie McAlpine, who died in 1991.
Keith Gregory said he thought a different member of the McAlpine family who lived locally may have been mistaken for Lord McAlpine.
A man who children at the care home believed to be a McAlpine would arrive there in an expensive car, he said.
For those that need the warning, references to child abuse under the cut.
Boris Johnson sweeps all the concern about child abuse out of the way. The real tragedy, says the Mayor of London, is that for about a week, Alastair McAlpine was being mistakenly named on Twitter as the man who’d raped boys from the Welsh care home, when it wasn’t him, it was probably his cousin, Jimmie McAlpine, who died in 1991. (Oh, and David Mellor thinks a child abuse survivor is a weirdo and the Daily Mail thinks it appropriate to do one of their hatchet jobs on Steven Messham.)
Boris Johnson: Smearing an innocent man’s name is the real tragedy here:
To call someone a paedophile is to consign them to the lowest circle of hell – and while they are still alive. It follows that you should not call someone a paedophile unless you are pretty sure of your facts. It is utterly incredible that the BBC’s flagship news programme decided to level this poisonous allegation against Lord McAlpine when it had not the slightest evidence to support its case. It was sickening yesterday morning, at 7am, to hear the BBC radio newscaster claim – as if it were some kind of mitigation – that Newsnight did not “name” McAlpine. Is it really claiming that it protected his identity?
How many times will we need to say it?
Alistair McAlpine’s hurt feelings at being mistaken for his cousin, or however it happened that the police told Steven Messham that the man who’d abused him was Lord McAlpine so many years ago, are not a tragedy.
Briefly – for what now seems a very short time – everyone was saying “We must believe the victims.”
Newsnight’s decision not to run an investigative programme about Jimmy Saville, because all they had was his victims’ testimony, was widely criticised.
On Newsnight tonight, instead, was the more usual refrain: Steve Messham was a “fantasist”, and shouldn’t be listened to. Lord McAlpine’s lawyer talked of bringing legal charges against Newsnight and Alistair McAlpine himself issued a comprehensive denial. Newsnight formally apologised, though it’s hard to see what for: they did not name Lord Alistair McAlpine as Messham’s abuser: nor did they hint his identity in any way.
[But see The BBC, Lord McAlpine and Libel Law for how Lord McAlpine might be able to sue the BBC anyway.]
More to the point, Steve Messham says:
at the time police showed him a picture of his abuser but incorrectly told him the man was Lord McAlpine.
Mr Messham told the BBC that he was “mortified” when he recently saw a real picture of Lord McAlpine and realised his mistake.
Newsnight did not name Alistair McAlpine as Steve Messham’s abuser. Steve Messham did not name Lord McAlpine to the media. The only senior Tory named was Sir Peter Morrison, who died in 1995.