Coffee House

Lord McAlpine: Abuse allegations ‘wholly false and seriously defamatory’

9 November 2012

Lord McAlpine has broken cover this morning after the Guardian named him in its story claiming the peer is a victim of mistaken identity in the swirling allegations about a Tory paedophile. He has released a lengthy statement, which you can read here, denying the ‘wholly false and seriously defamatory’ claims, and adding that he never visited the children’s home where the abuse is alleged to have taken place:

‘The facts are, however, that I have been to Wrexham only once. I visited the local Constituency Conservative Association in my capacity as Deputy Chairman. I was accompanied on this trip, at all times, by Stuart Newman, a Central Office Agent. We visited Mary Bell, a distant relative of mine and close friend of Stuart Newman. We did not stay the night in Wrexham. I have never been to the children’s home in Wrexham, nor have I ever visited any children’s home, reform school or any other institution of a similar nature. I have never stayed in a hotel in or near Wrexham, I did not own a Rolls Royce, have never had a “Gold card” or “Harrods card” and never wear aftershave, all of which have been alleged. I did not sexually abuse Mr Messham or any other residents of the children’s home in Wrexham. Stuart Newman is now dead but my solicitors are endeavouring to locate a senior secretary who worked at Central Office at the time to see if she can remember the precise date I visited that Association.’

The peer writes that he decided to speak out because ‘it has become apparent to me that a number of ill- or uninformed commentators have been using blogs and other internet media outlets to accuse me of being the senior Conservative figure from the days of Margaret Thatcher’s leadership who is guilty of sexually abusing young residents of a children’s home in Wrexham, North Wales in the 1970s and 1980s’.

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Until yesterday, those swirling rumours were confined to social media and blogs, but they were followed by Philip Schofield triumphantly telling the Prime Minister on This Morning that it ‘took me about three minutes last night to continually find a list of the same names’ on the internet, as though he were handing over a bloodstained murder weapon in a court case or some other hard piece of evidence other than a list of names cobbled together from a string of tweets. Other names continue to circulate, and as James blogged yesterday, the reluctance of other journalists to name names without sufficient evidence, suspicion is cast on whole groups of people.

Though he wishes to ‘mitigate, if only to some small extent, the damage to my reputation’, McAlpine continues to threaten legal action, saying:

‘I conclude by reminding those who have defamed me or who intend to do so that in making this statement I am by no means giving up my right to seek redress at law and repeat that I expressly reserve my rights to take all such steps as I and my solicitors consider necessary to protect my interests.’

Those holding a trial in the court of public opinion would find the courts of law of this country rather less credulous. Unlike Philip Schofield, in court of law, there is a burden of proof, not a burden of tweets or a trending topic. In fact, libel cases require a defendant to produce the evidence that led to them making the allegedly defamatory statement, rather than the prosecution producing the evidence. Even if the statement is true, which in this case McAlpine says it is not, if a defendant cannot prove that the substance of the claim is true, they can still be found guilty.

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Show comments
  • Wilma

    One name springs to mind.John McTernon employed at the moment by PM Gillard.He is in Australia concocting the most insidious and diabolical tactics to destroy the reputations of Australian conservative opposition using the tax payer funded left leaning media as his willing accomplice.Sound familiar?

  • David Lindsay

    He was never well-known to anyone except political anoraks, and not even to all of them.

    If these victims named “a senior Conservative figure from the Thatcher years”, then it cannot have been him.

    Mistaken identity, indeed.

  • Salem Scoutmaster

    Philip Schofield is obviously just another evil paedophile just trying to cover himself by accusing others of the same.
    His smug hair-do would go up nicely what with all that hairspray on it.
    (You see, PHIL mate, it’s not so much fun when it’s you who’s accused without any real evidence, is it?)

  • John Maloney

    I hope he sues, for different reasons – a day in court would really open things up.

  • eeore

    Odd how this comes shortly after the EU rebellion in the commons.

    Reading the story in the Gruadian it is pretty clear that Lord McAlpine was never going to be named – though was going to be dragged into the story.

  • rob

    I am not defending Jimmy Saville but what sort of a trial has he had in relation to recent events. It is only word of mouth that has ‘convicted’ him in the court of public opinion. What is the difference between him and Lord McAlpine or infact anybody when David Cameron warns people must not ‘bandy about allegations and names’

    • Fergus Pickering

      The difference, rob, is the sheer weight of evidence in the Savile case, and the almost total lack of it in the case of Lord McAlpine. And of course Savile pretty well admitted it. I’m not sure what you mean by ‘word of mouth’. What DO you mean?.

      • rob

        The weight of evidence in Savilles case exploded exponentially after the media started bandying about allegations. Again I reiterate the fact I am not defending Jimmy Saville but at what ‘weight of evidence’ does the accused become guilty?

  • Tron

    The sheer relish with which the BBC presenters said the words “Senior Tory”,” Margaret Thatcher” and “Paedophile” in the same sentence over and over again was amazing. Listen to Stephen Nolan or Victoria Derbyshire if you can stand it.
    It suited the BBC ( and Tom Watson) not to give a name because the audience could jump to the wrong conclusion and suspect all “Tories” of taking part or covering-up.

    Best of all it kept the words “Jimmy Savile” and “BBC cesspit” of the air.

  • Hugh

    “Even if the statement is true, which in this case McAlpine says it is
    not, if a defendant cannot prove that the substance of the claim is
    true, they can still be found guilty.”

    What does that mean? And libel is civil law ordinarily.


    It looks as though, as anyone else who has spent 3 minutes looking at the internet will already know, there will be as much do-do falling on the great and the good, ha-ha, of the Labour Party as on senior Tories, and Watson, as Lefties all do in everything they touch, shows himself to be more concerned with waging malevolent ideological war rather than seeking any tangible redress for any actual victims.

  • CraigStrachan

    Schofield probably feels particular revulsion towards paedophiles, possessing as he does the looks and judgment of a 12-year-old.

  • Salisbury

    I see that Steve Messham, whose accusations on Newsnight last week set off the latest round of the witchhunt, has now gone to ground.

    I don’t think there is any doubt that Mr Messham was abused as a boy at the Bryn Estyn home, and he deserves our sympathies for that, but I do question his recent behaviour. How could he possibly have been sure for Newsnight that Lord McAlpine was his alleged abuser – for that is what we are led to believe he said – when he was unable to give such definitive testimony to the Waterhouse inquiry? What does he know now that he didn’t know 15 years ago at the time of Waterhouse, or at the time when he was abused?

    The only other explanation is that the way the Newsnight programme was put together led to the impression that Messham had said something that in fact he hadn’t. Certainly he did not name Alistair McAlpine on air, so whatever he did say we only have their word for it. A few more questions for Newsnight here, I think – the same programme that canned its investigation of Jimmy Savile under suspicious circumstances. It would be ironic if their attempt to get out from under that one, led them into even greater difficulties.

  • Judy

    There is far too little attention given to Tom Watson’s motives for his intervention at this particular time.

    He just happens to be Labour’s election supremo.

    There just happen to be three by-elections coming up.

    One of them is for the Labour seat in Rotherham, which just happens to be the focus of a major scandal around sexual abuse of girls in a Labour local authority, and where the by-election is the result of Labour MP’s Denis McShane having been found by the relevant Parliamentary Committee of a shameful sequence of fraudulent expenses claims, where the fraud could not just be ascribed to misunderstanding the rules.

    One of them is in Middlesborough, where the by-election was caused by the death of Sir Stuart Bell, a Labour MP who was one of the major champions of the previous -freeload-for-all-MPs expenses regime, and did his level best to prevent the evidence from being published. He also played a major role in rubbishing the child protection regime in the Cleveland Child Abuse scandal. He may have been justified, but the point was that he used the press relentlessly when he could not have known the truth. He also lived in France for the last years of his “service” as an MP.

    Also happening in the days following Watson’s sensationalist intervention and subsequent posting of accusations|

    House of Commons gives grilling to the Director of Social Services & other key staff in the Labour controlled Rochdale sexual abuse of girls in care scandal. An appalling level of management ignorance and insouciance emerges. Where were the Labour councillors?

    The trial begins of Margaret Mahon, former Labour MP, for the fraudulent claiming of £53,000, for items which could not possibly have been misunderstood legitimate as expenses claims.

    Maybe this was all entirely co-incidental. What do you think?

  • Jebediah

    This is why we need proof before accusation. Enough of this “he’s a witch” crap. We as a nation or perhaps as media, fall too easy into hysteria these days. Prove it, punish them severely, but this trial by insinnuation, guesswork, and the internet weakens everybodys’ rights and freedoms.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Well said.

  • Kevinc

    Accusations of child abuse should be subject to the same burden of proof as other crimes. In our stupid, hysterical, mob-driven PC culture, people are now declared “guilty” without a shred of genuine evidence against them, other than the malignant gossip of (mostly) anonymous Internet trolls, opportunists looking to make a quick buck, and the usual hysterical PC brigade who have a vested interest in the whole sorry farce because their fat salaries as CEOs and senior officers of the victim industry depend upon them exaggerating the scale of the problem so that the money keeps rolling in (e.g. NSPCC). Hopefully our courts can keep some sort of perspective on the whole sorry shambles, but I doubt it. People who are wrongly accused of child abuse are hardly ever believed and barely allowed to defend themselves. I hope Lord McCalpine sues, and in the process destroys some high-profile reputations. Maybe this will be our country’s McCarthy moment, when the vindictive Senator’s bluff was called on live TV. The mob is just a collective bully, and like all bullies are essentially cowards who melt away when faced with serious opposition. Meanwhile, the voice of those children who are genuinely abused (thankfully very few) will get lost in the melee.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Well said. Hysteria masks truth and objectivity. It is increasingly harnessed to pursue cynical agendas.

    • Eddie

      EXACTLY! But the same burden of proof is never required, is it, with certain allegations – sex abuse is one; racism is another.

      I was once accused of theft when 100% innocent and it was really dreadful being assumed to be guilty then! Imagine what that is like if one is accused of child abuse – and men here is very vulnerable (if the same false accusations happened mostly to women, the feminists would be screaming and shrieking for sure – yep, even the awful Harriet Hardman who thinks all men accused by anyone should be suspended from their jobs – which means no income at all for certain workers – and grilled by a gestapo inquisition until they confess their guilt!).

      Perhaps a television showing of The Crucible is called for – and maybe it can immediately precede a rerun of Louis Theroux’s Savile documentary?

      We are witness mob behaviour of the worst kind conducting a witch hunt against innocent men – who some unreliable witness has just named because hje is no doubt parroting what some manipulator has told him. We need people who make false accusations of this type to be treated VERY severely, no matter how harsh their childhoods. Why? Because a man accused of such things is destroyed forever because mud sticks even if it does not really exists and is mud that has been manufactured by an hysterical mob.

      Automatically believing those who accuse others of child abuse if JUST as bad as automatically DISbelieveing children or adults who make such claims: the end result of both is that innocent people get hurt.

      This country needs more common sense and Reason – and I do wish someone who tell all the self-righeous media folk and politicians to stop feeding of the tragedy of child abuse and to stop pandering to the army of ‘mum’s out there who form the bulk of this insane screaming hysterical irrational witch-hunting mob.
      I applud Cameron for this stand – however self-interested. But we need more rational people to tell the hysterics to shut the F up!

      • Eddie

        And it’s funny how people forget their witch hunts against innocent men after those me are revealed to be innocent.
        Remember that former public school teacher landlord who owned the flat where a young girl was murdered. He was vilified by the press, abused terribly and portrayed as a monstrous weirdo – and they deliberately used lang-haired dodgy-looking photos of him to complete the character assassination. Then what happened? Oh, the girls neighbour (some young Dutch guy) was arrested and charged with the girl’s murder!
        So yes, his got compo and a little apology in a newspaper – but the apology was not headline news for days which is what the bullying assumptions made about him were.
        It is surely the job of government to act on behalf of the people, and tell them when they are wrong and behaving like a mob – not to pander to that mob.
        Sadly, it is the dictatorship of democracy that makes politicians suck up to the public, esp the all-important women’s vote (all those concerned mums…) whenever something like this happens.
        It is all DISGUSTING and morally unjustified. In a word, it is WRONG, the way the idiot screaming mob targets a man on the say-so of someone and assumes he is guilty of chilkd abuse. Read Frankenstein to see how this happens – we are not different now. In fact, we are probably worse, because we think we are better than some peasant mob from the past. We aren’t. QED.

  • HooksLaw

    ‘not a burden of tweets’? – Well may I remind you that your very on Fraser Nelson only the other day on these pages professed that you could say what you liked on tweets provided the person you were smearing was not ‘following’ you’.

    I have yet to see Mr Nelson retract that absurd assertion, but then when you see what a rag bag of racism the Coffee House comments areas have descended into I wonder at the moral rectitude of the whole edifice.

  • Andy

    I hope Lord McAlpine sues. Philip Schofield clearly revealed his name and I would start by issuing a writ against him. Unfortunately the prime mover in all of this, that ugly Brownite thug Tom Watson, has stayed very carefully within the law – just. But he ought to be forced to retract his outrageous claims or to substantiate them in Court if necessary.

    • HooksLaw

      Watson and Labour show how low they will stoop when it comes to smearing.

  • HooksLaw

    Saying that these people are ‘ill- or uninformed’ is a paragon of understatement in the circumstances.
    The Guardian, which get oh so moral and high and mighty over so called hacking, is exposed as a miserable scumbag of a paper, solely concerned with smearing the conservatives.

    • Andy

      Smearing the Conservatives is what that ugly Brownite thug Watson was doing. If he has any balls let him go on telly and name Lord McAlpine so the noble Lord can sue the arse off him. He wont of course because he is a dishonest little creep.

      • one thing

        Anyone who read the McAlpine piece would have seen that the Guardian cleared him. I’m not sure how you want journalists to respond to the wild lies swirling politicans of both parties, but I thought tracking down and disproving the most detailed set of allegations was a good start. And Watson isn’t after McAlpine.

    • Eddie

      So true. And how often does The Grauniad stand shaking its head with that superior sanctimony oft-seen in local council diversity departments or plodding pompous academics at the way the tabloids report such salacious stuff – sex stories, celebrity scandal etc – and then does EXACTLY the same thing by simply reporting what the tabloids have said?
      And The Guardian is perfectly happy to bully and attempt to destroy all those who do not subscribe to its self-righteous politically correct left-wing pomposity: anyone who dares to express an opinion that is seen as ‘non-U’ by these often wealthy, privately educated, socialist hypocrite snobs.

      The Guardian is an utter disgrace. Worse, perhaps, it is a dull, tedious, uninteresting read. It has its loyal followers (whingeing teachers, stuck-up spoilt selfish academics and everyone else who works for the state, in unsackable and has a massive pension to look forward too thanks to tax paid by the private sector), and also is the best newspaper for job ads – education on Tuesday for example: without that unofficial state subsidy it would go under.

  • Steerage

    The ‘Newsnight’ Welsh homes report was a piece of cheap BBC opportunism,
    trying desperately to prove they were really clean on paedophilia.

    Oddly it was put together by the ‘Bureau of Investigative Journalism’. Yes I haven’t either.

    There wasn’t a scrap of new evidence proffered, yet Cameron was badly
    advised (by whom?) to rapidly put two more enquiries in place to avoid
    appearing indifferent to child sexual abuse.

    Those adults who make accusations to the media have to have them
    examined and questioned, just as the police and courts would. And if
    they sound unlikely as many Welsh ones do, they should be tested, for
    logic and likelihood.

    Such accusers must be asked at least this one question: have you
    witnessed any abuse where you can name the abuser, and have told the

    The Schofield list provided Cameron with the well-taken opportunity
    to stop Witchfinder General Watson, in his tracks and offer some support
    to gay (and non-gay) Tories who are being smeared up and down the

    Peter Tatchell should be thankful Cameron got his cochones back, not
    complaining about his remarks. He doesn’t seem to know just how
    devastating internet naming is for the innocent, be they gay or

    You can’t put a reputation back together unless you have very deep pockets like Lord McAlpine and even then damage is done.

    • Andy

      The Newsnight piece was a pathetic attempt by the BBC to distract attention from the Jimmy Savile affair where they had been entirely complicit in allowing his to abuse children for years.

      Tom Watson asked his question specifically to smear Conservatives. Typical behaviour from this odious Brownite thug.

      Lord McAlpine really should issue a few writs and he could do no better than to start with Schofield and ITV.

  • In2minds

    Pendle witch trials again?

  • telemachus

    Good for Lord McAlpine
    Were that the rest of the Tories were so honest detailed andv robust in their dealings with the voters

    • Havocman

      Trying to score a political point out of this? Low even by your standards, Telemachus.

      • telemachus

        Contrary chum
        We all detest what has gone on
        That a senior Tory gives us a detailed verifyablre rejoinder is to say the least refreshing

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