Lord McAlpine Drops Twitter Defamation Claims

Lord McAlpine has announced that he is dropping defamation claims against Twitter users with fewer than 500 followers who wrongly named him as a paedophile, instead asking for a charitable donation.

The Tory peer, who has already received six-figure payouts from the BBC and ITV, said he wanted to draw the "unfortunate episode" to a close.

He has now written to Twitter users with fewer than 500 followers, asking them to make a voluntary donation of £25 to the BBC's Children In Need as soon as possible.

Lord McAlpine was mistakenly implicated by Newsnight's November 2 broadcast in a paedophile ring which targeted children at a care home in Wrexham. His name was then widely mentioned on the internet, including Twitter.

The former Tory politician reached a £185,000 settlement with the BBC after it broadcast the botched Newsnight investigation, as well as receiving £125,000 from ITV and Phillip Schofield relating to a This Morning programme broadcast on November 8.

He is also pursuing Sally Bercow, wife of Commons Speaker John Bercow, over comments she made on the microblogging site and said today that his lawyers would be focusing on that.

In a statement today, Lord McAlpine said he would cover all administration costs for the low-circulation Twitter libels.

"Whilst I reached a settlement last year with both the BBC and ITV, I would like to now draw this unfortunate episode, forced into my life, to a close," he said.

"I have dropped all claims against those tweeters with less than 500 followers, in return for a very modest donation to BBC Children In Need, which funds 2,600 projects supporting disadvantaged children and young people in the UK.

"I have requested that my lawyers, RMPI LLP, focus on the action against Sally Bercow and that damages arising from this are donated to a charity of her choice. I am not intending to make any further comment on this matter."