Agence France Presse
Published — Thursday 15 November 2012
Last update 15 November 2012 7:33 pm
LONDON: A senior British politician on Thursday described his deep anger at being wrongly implicated in child sex abuse allegations by a top BBC news program.
Lord Alistair McAlpine, who was treasurer of the Conservative party when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister in the 1980s, said journalists investigating the story should have contacted him before it was broadcast.
About being wrongly under suspicion, he said: “You just think there’s something wrong with the world.”
The BBC said it hoped to reach a settlement with McAlpine over the report by its flagship Newsnight program on November 2 which implicated him in abuse at a children’s home in Wrexham in Wales.
The report did not name McAlpine, but strongly hinted at his identity.
The BBC has apologized “unreservedly” for the report and said several people involved will face disciplinary action.
The report led to the sudden resignation of BBC director-general George Entwistle on Saturday, deepening the crisis at the world’s largest broadcaster over sex abuse claims against one of its highest profile stars, the late Jimmy Savile.
McAlpine, who lives in Italy, said in an interview with BBC radio he had been “in a state of shock” after he heard of the allegations.
“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.
“Of course they should have called me and I would have told them exactly what they learnt later on.”
“That it was complete rubbish and that I’d only ever been to Wrexham once in my life. They could have saved themselves a lot of agonizing and money, actually, if they’d just made that telephone call.”
It emerged that an abuse victim who had implicated McAlpine in the report had not been shown a photograph of him. Only after the program was broadcast did he realize he was not the man who had abused him.
McAlpine said the accusations had had a deep effect on him.
A statement from the BBC said: “We share Lord McAlpine’s view and we hope to reach a conclusion today.”
McAlpine’s lawyer Andrew Reid also called on people who had speculated about the politician on Twitter to apologize.
.”..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.”