Criminal probe over McAlpine naming

Halstead Gazette: Lord McAlpine was was wrongly named as a paedophile online following a Newsnight report Lord McAlpine was was wrongly named as a paedophile online following a Newsnight report

Police are to look into whether any criminal offence has been committed over the Lord McAlpine affair, it has emerged.

The peer, who was wrongly named as a paedophile online following a botched Newsnight investigation into child abuse at a North Wales care home, has already reached a £185,000 settlement with the BBC and his lawyers are in talks with ITV over a bigger payment.

The broadcaster sparked fury when presenter Phillip Schofield brandished a list of names of alleged abusers which he had found on the internet and handed it to the Prime Minister during a live interview.

Former Tory politician Lord McAlpine has also vowed to pursue Twitter users who wrongly named him, asking those who linked him to child abuse allegations to apologise formally and pay a "sensible and modest amount" which he plans to donate to BBC Children in Need.

It has emerged that Scotland Yard is to start looking into whether any criminal offence has taken place in connection with the saga. It is thought crimes could reportedly include the offence of malicious communication.

A spokesman for Scotland Yard said: "We have not received an allegation of crime at this time, however we can confirm we will be meeting with interested parties to start the process of scoping whether any offence has taken place. It is far too early to say whether any criminal investigation will follow."

Lord McAlpine's solicitor Andrew Reid previously said action was being considered against a "very long list" of Twitter users.

Comedian Alan Davies and the Commons Speaker's wife Sally Bercow are among the prominent figures who have already apologised for linking the peer to child abuse allegations on Twitter.

Mrs Bercow posted on November 4: "Why is Lord McAlpine trending? *innocent face*." She appears to have deactivated her account and quit the site.

It has been revealed that Lord McAlpine is donating compensation he receives from defamatory posts on Twitter to BBC Children in Need.

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