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Lord McAlpine on 'Newsnight' scandal: 'The BBC should have called me'

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Lord McAlpine has discussed the infamous Newsnight report wrongly implicating him in child abuse allegations.

Former children's home resident Steve Messham claimed on the BBC show that he had been abused at the Wrexham home by an individual who was a senior politician while Margaret Thatcher was prime minister.

Lord Mcalpine

© Rex Features / Mike Forster/Daily Mail

Newsnight

© BBC



Despite not being named on Newsnight, Lord McAlpine's name was linked to the report in the public domain, only for Messham to later admit that it was a case of mistaken identity.

The scandal led to the resignation of BBC Director-General George Entwistle, and a BBC apology carried in full on Newsnight.

Lord McAlpine has now told BBC Radio 4's The World at One that the crisis could have been averted had the BBC contacted him before running the incorrect story.

"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," he explained.

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

Former BBC director general George Entwistle

© BBC Pictures / Guy Levy



Asked whether he agrees with London Mayor Boris Johnson that calling someone a paedophile is to "consign them to the lowest circle of hell - and while they're still alive", the ex-Conservative Party treasurer concurred.

"Absolutely," he said. "I think it describes pretty much what happened to me in the first few days of this event.

"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's something wrong with the world."

Earlier this week, the BBC began disciplinary action against some of the individuals involved in the decision to air the Newsnight piece.

Tim Davie, who is acting BBC Director-General while the corporation searches for Entwistle's replacement, has now vowed to "get a grip of the situation".

Watch Eddie Mair sign off from Newsnight following the programme's apology below:

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