Posted on November 15, 2012 at 12:46 PM
LONDON—A lawyer for the Conservative politician who was wrongly implicated in a child sex abuse scandal says his client is likely to reach a settlement soon with the BBC and may sue people who named him on Twitter.
Lawyer Andrew Reid told BBC radio that a deal between Alistair McAlpine and the broadcaster was expected later Thursday.
The BBC has already apologized for linking McAlpine, a member of the House of Lords, to child sex abuse that happened decades ago in Wales. The mistaken report, broadcast nearly two weeks ago, has caused turmoil within BBC management ranks and led to the resignation of its chief.
McAlpine, 70, told BBC radio he had been shocked by the report, which did not directly name him but led to Internet chatter about his purported role.
He said the BBC had not contacted him to try to verify the report before it was televised on its “Newsnight” program. He said he would have told the broadcaster the reports were false.
“They should have called me and I would have told them exactly what they learned later on—that it was complete rubbish,” he said.
He expressed sympathy for the sex abuse victim who had mistakenly told BBC that McAlpine was the culprit, pointing out that the victim had suffered greatly because of the abuse.
“But it wasn’t me,” McAlpine said.
He said some of the damage done by the false report could never be undone.
“It can be repaired to a point,” McAlpine said. “But there is a British proverb, which is insidious and awful, where people say ‘there’s no smoke without a fire’—you know, ‘he appears to be innocent, but...’
McAlpine said “to find yourself a figure of public hatred, unjustifiably, is terrifying.”
His lawyer advised people who had named McAlpine on Twitter to come forward or face expensive lawsuits.
“It’s easier to come forward and see us and apologize 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,” Reid said.
The BBC, which was already facing severe criticism for its handling of child sex abuse claims against its late TV host Jimmy Savile, has broadcast a complete on-air apology for the faulty investigative report into historic child abuse in Wales.
The Metropolitan Police on Thursday arrested a man in his 60s in connection with the wide-ranging Savile investigation. A police statement said some 450 alleged victims have now come forward.