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BBC, ITV Apologize to McAlpine in Court on Sex Abuse Claims

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Dec. 18 (Bloomberg) -- British Broadcasting Corp. and ITV Plc apologized in open court to retired U.K. politician Alistair McAlpine, who was wrongly linked to pedophilia allegations.

“The disgraceful allegations should never have been aired,” BBC lawyer David Attfield said at a hearing in London today. “It accepts it cannot put back the clock and wishes to express its genuine remorse for the harm it has caused him.”

BBC, the world’s largest public broadcaster, agreed to pay McAlpine 185,000 pounds ($300,000) last month for an erroneous report on current-affairs program “Newsnight” linking the former Conservative party treasurer to abuse claims at child-care homes in Wales in the 1970s and 1980s.

ITV also apologized to McAlpine at today’s hearing. The U.K.’s largest commercial broadcaster and its morning-show host Phillip Schofield paid him 125,000 pounds after a list of accused pedophiles that wrongly included his name was passed, live on air, to Prime Minister David Cameron.

“Neither ITV or Mr. Schofield intended to make the allegations against Lord McAlpine,” Ian Felstead, a lawyer for ITV, said. “They do accept full responsibility for the broadcast and the harm and distress caused.”

McAlpine earlier this month also sued Sally Bercow, wife of House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, over a post about him on Twitter Inc.’s social-media service.

Both broadcasters face paying McApline’s legal costs of almost 200,000 pounds, Andrew Reid, his lawyer, said outside court today.

Nearly 1,000 Twitter users have written to McAlpine apologizing for posting or re-posting remarks on the social media site linking him to child abuse allegations, Reid said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy Hodges in London at jhodges17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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