Tory peer denies child abuse claims
British Conservative peer Lord McAlpine has issued a strongly worded statement saying that reports linking him to north Wales child abuse allegations are “wholly false and seriously defamatory”.
Lord McAlpine publicly broke his silence to deny “mistaken” allegations that have been swirling on the internet in the wake of a BBC Newsnight report last week.
The man who was party treasurer under Margaret Thatcher said a “media frenzy” meant he had no choice but to “publicly tackle these slurs and set the record straight” in a statement released to the Press Association yesterday, a day after the Guardian reported that new evidence suggested the peer was a victim of “mistaken identity”.
Lord McAlpine, who is in poor health and lives in Italy, said he would make himself available to meet the chief constable of north Wales police, Mark Polin, and Keith Bristow, director general of the National Crime Agency, who had been asked by British home secretary Theresa May to review historic police investigations and inquiries into abuse in north Wales care homes in the 1970s and 1980s.
The speculation about the peer began last Friday, when Newsnight ran an item re-examining the care home scandal, which included an interview with Steve Messham, who said he had been taken from the Bryn Estyn care home to a hotel in Wrexham and abused by a prominent Tory – and other men – on several occasions.
Newsnight chose not to name the high-profile individual suspected because, the reporter Angus Stickler said, “there was not enough [information] to name names”. But the report was introduced by Gavin Esler, who said “this man” – meaning Mr Messham – had said “a leading Conservative from the time was one of his abusers”.
Using a fresh interview with Mr Messham and a historic interview with a second unnamed person from 2000, voiced by an actor, they said the allegations concerned “a leading politician from the Thatcher years”.
However, rumours about the accused person’s identity immediately began to circulate in Westminster, and gain further currency on the internet, where Lord McAlpine’s name was repeatedly mentioned.
Evidence taken from Mr Messham’s witness statement as recorded by the original Waterhouse inquiry into child sexual abuse in the north Wales care homes may have pointed to the late Jimmie McAlpine, who chaired the building firm of the same name and died in 1991.
Lord (Alistair) McAlpine said he had visited Wrexham only once, to make a trip to the Conservative Association, when he was accompanied by party official Steve Newman.
“I have never been to the children’s home in Wrexham, nor have I ever visited any children’s home, reform school or any other institution of a similar nature,” he said, adding: “I have never stayed in a hotel in or near Wrexham.” – (Guardian service)