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BBC agrees to pay Lord McAlpine £185,000 damages and legal costs

The BBC has agreed to pay Lord McAlpine £185,000 in damages, together with legal costs, following a Newsnight broadcast on 2 November 2012 which led to the peer wrongly being implicated in the alleged sexual abuse of children at north Wales care homes in the 1970s and 1980s. Lord McAlpine was not mentioned by name in the Newsnight broadcast, but had been identified  on Twitter prior to transmission.

It is understood that lawyers for Lord McAlpine are collecting information in relation to individuals who tweeted or retweeted libellous comments and that an unprecedented series of 'twibel' (twitter libel) actions is being contemplated. Lord McAlpine's lawyers have invited individuals to come forward and apologise, suggesting that this will be cheapest for them.

Andrew Reid, Lord McAlpines solicitor, told BBC Radio 4's The World at One: ...We have been watching people who have been taking down what they put on Twitter. What they dont seem to understand is that once its there you cant take it down. And, whats more, we already have all the information. We have managed to find a couple of firms of experts who have managed to produce the pre-tweets, the post tweets, the effect of the tweets and the re-tweets. What starts at one ends up as 100,000 or more in some cases. Let it be a lesson to everybody that trial by Twitter or trial by the internet is a very nasty way of hurting people unnecessarily and it will cost people a lot of money


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Articles are intended as an introduction to the topic and do not constitute legal advice.