15/11/2012 07:08 GMT | Updated 15/11/2012 08:37 GMT

Lord McAlpine: BBC Newsnight Investigation Mistake Caused Anger And Hurt

The former Conservative politician who was wrongly linked to a child sex abuse as a result of a Newsnight investigation is in the process of agreeing a settlement package with the BBC, his solicitor has said.

Lawyers for Lord McAlpine indicated they were taking legal action after the programme led to the peer being mistakenly implicated in a paedophile ring that targeted children at a care home in Wrexham in north Wales.

Lord McAlpine has said the agreement will be "tempered" as he realises ultimately it is licence payers who will be paying out.

lord macalpine

Lord McAlpine was wrongly implicated by the BBC

The former Tory Party treasurer said the Newsnight investigation had left him devastated. He told BBC Radio 4's The World at One programme: "It gets into your bones, it makes you angry, and that's extremely bad for you to be angry, and it gets into your soul and you just think there is something wrong with the world."

He added the whole matter could have been avoided if BBC investigators had called him and offered him the right to reply to the allegations before the report was aired.

"They could have saved themselves a lot of agonising, and money actually, if they had just made that telephone call.

"They should have called me and I would have told them exactly what they learned later on - that it was complete rubbish and that I had only ever been to Wrexham once in my life."

Lord McAlpine's solicitor Andrew Reid told Radio 4 he was hoping to agree a settlement with the BBC today.

He said: "Lord McAlpine is more than aware that the ultimate people who will paying for any monies that he may receive are in fact the licence payers, the people who really own the BBC, and he is very much aware of this and hence any agreement that is reached is tempered in the light of that."

He added that ITV's This Morning would also be sent a letter after presenter Phillip Schofield handed David Cameron a list of names associated with child abuse that were circulating online.

Schofield's dramatic questioning technique appeared to backfire after some of the names were clearly visible to viewers.

The presenter later apologised saying "there may have been a misjudged camera angle for a split second."

Mr Reid has also appealed to the people who named Lord McAlpine on Twitter to come forward, saying some prominent people had already apologised, but others had not.

"What we're basically saying to people is, look, we know - in inverted commas - who you are, we know exactly the extent of what you've done. And it's easier to come forward and see us and apologise 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."


Lord McAlpine said he was deeply sympathetic for Steve Messham

Although the November 2 Newsnight programme did not name the peer - referring only to a senior Conservative from the Thatcher era - it quickly resulted in him being identified on internet blogs and social media sites.

The current affairs show later carried a full, on air apology for the broadcast.

An official report into investigation by the BBC's Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie concluded Newsnight staff failed to complete "basic journalistic checks".

Mr MacQuarrie also found there was confusion about who had the ultimate responsibility for "final editorial sign-off", adding the programme's editorial management structure had been "seriously weakened" as a result of the editor having to step aside over the Jimmy Savile scandal, and the departure of the deputy editor.

Although legal advice was sought over the report, no right of reply was offered to the unnamed individual at the centre of the allegation.

The programme featured an interview with Steve Messham, an abuse victim who said a senior political figure of the time abused him. He later said he wrongly identified his abuser and apologised.