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Lord McAlpine Ends Legal Action Against Some Twitter Users

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Users with fewer than 500 followers who reteweeted allegations won’t be sued, Sally Bercow is less lucky

Lord McAlpine has ceased legal action against some Twitter users who wrongly named him as a paedophile on the micro-blogging site.

The allegations arose from a Newsnight investigation into historical allegations at care homes in North Wales, broadcast on 2 November. Lord McAlpine was not named in the programme, but was incorrectly linked to the claims on the Internet.

Once it became clear that he was not involved, Newsnight made a full on-air apology one week later and the BBC paid him £185,000 in damages.

Lord McAlpine Twitter action

Blue bird, Twitter © ruforester FotoliaHowever, Lord McAlpine has now  instructed his lawyers to drop all lawsuits against those who have fewer than 500 followers, instead asking those people to make a “modest donation” to BBC’s Children in Need.

In a statement to the BBC, McAlpine said that he would cover all the administration costs and expressed his desire to bring this “unfortunate episode” to a close and that he had instructed his lawyers to focus their attention on Sally Bercow, the Speaker’s wife, one of those who tweeted about the Newsnight investigation.

Legal action against Bercow was launched in December for damages not exceeding £50,000, to be donated to a charity of her choice.

Lord McAlpine has already reached a settlement with ITV after This Morning presenter Phillip Schofield handed Prime Minister David Cameron a list of alleged paedophiles he had found on the Internet, live on the programme. Part of the list was clearly visible to viewers, contributing to Lord McAlpine’s fear that he would become a public hate figure.

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