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Smeared lord to sue Twitter users

LONDON, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Former Conservative politician Alister McAlpine said he will sue people who used Twitter to wrongly link him to a child sex abuse scandal in North Wales.

Andrew Reid, McAlpine's lawyer, said the tweets could "cost people a lot of money," saying he will pursue Sally Bercow, the wife of the speaker of Commons, and George Monbiot, a columnist for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph reported Thursday.

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BBC's "Newsnight" current affairs show reported Nov. 2 an unnamed senior Tory politician during the Thatcher era was involved in a pedophile ring that targeted children at a facility in Wrexham in northern Wales. The alleged victim wrongly identified McAlpine as his abuser, and though the politician's name was not used in the program, some Twitter users linked him to the scandal in posts.

"Twitter is not just a closed coffee shop among friends. It goes out to hundreds of thousands of people and you must take responsibility for it," Reid said. "It is not a place where you can gossip and say things with impunity, and we are about to demonstrate that."

"Newsnight" later carried an on-air apology for the Nov. 2 report.

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The Telegraph said an official report determined "Newsnight" staff didn't complete "basic journalistic checks."

Reid said he hoped to reach a settlement with the BBC. Reid said during an interview on a BBC program any financial compensation was being negotiated based on the understanding it ultimately would be paid by taxpayers.

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