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Brother outraged by slur on peer
Published 19/11/12

SIR WILLIAM McALPINE of Fawley has criticised the BBC after his brother was falsely linked to child abuse in North Wales.

His brother, Lord (Alistair) McAlpine, was widely named on the internet after victim Stephen Messham told Newsnight that he had been abused by a senior Conservative from the Thatcher era in a Wrexham hotel. Lord McAlpine used to be the party treasurer.

The claims were made public after This Morning presenter Phillip Schofield handed David Cameron a list of names of alleged paedophiles live on air on Thursday last week.

Sir William said he was “completely taken aback” by the claims, which led to the resignation of BBC director general George Entwistle.

Writing in the Daily Mail,he suggested the Newsnight report was broadcast in order to “regain the moral high ground” following criticism of the BBC’s handling of the Jimmy Savile scandal and a decision not to air a previous investigation into the paedophile presenter. Sir William said: “Of course, I had heard it was someone close to Mrs Thatcher but the idea of my younger brother being involved was so preposterous, I laughed it off. My brother is one of the most honourable people I know. He did not deserve to have his reputation sullied in this manner.

“Anyone who knows Alistair would have realised the allegation was ludicrious. If only the Newsnight team had bothered to contact members of the family, or indeed Alistair himself, they would surely have reached the same conclusion. Instead, they went ahead half-cocked with a story based on the flimsiest of evidence. This has been a shameful period for the BBC and I hope they will learn from it.”

His brother, now 70, issued a statement on Friday calling the allegations against him “wholly false and seriously defamatory”.

Mr Messham later apologised for wrongly claiming he had been abused by Lord McAlpine in the Seventies and Eighties. He issued a statement saying his claim was based on a case of mistaken identity and revealed he had not seen a photograph of the peer until after the report was broadcast.

The BBC apologised for broadcasting the report and Mr Entwistle resigned for what he described as the “unacceptable journalistic standards”.

Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman, who lives in Stonor, has attacked management at the corporation.

His agent, Capel & Land, said on Twitter: “George Entwistle’s departure is a great shame. He has been brought low by cowards and incompetents. I had hoped that George might stay to sort this out. It is a great pity that a talented man has been sacrificed while time-servers prosper.”

Meanwhile, Schofield, from Fawley, was widely condemned for his actions and was dubbed “cretinous” by broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby. Reading East Conservative MP Rob Wilson reported the ITV1 programme to Ofcom.

Published 19/11/12

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