George Monbiot in Grovelling Apology to Lord McAlpine Over Twitter Slur [Full Statement]
By Dominic Gover | November 17, 2012 2:18 AM EST
Guardian columnist George Monbiot has issued an "abject" apology for smearing Lord McAlpine during frenzied speculation about the identity of a paedophile politician.
The former treasurer of the Conservative party took legal action after being named on the web as the leading Tory who was a member of an alleged paedophile ring at a north Wales care home.
Monbiot claimed he thought he was doing the right thing when he directed his 55,000 Twitter followers to baseless internet claims about the 70-year-old McAlpine, who is in poor health.
Wrongly naming McApline as a paedophile or linking his name via innuendo to a child sex scandal in north Wales could result in huge compensation claims against those guilty of defaming the former MP.
The BBC has already paid out £185,000 in damages, and more could follow from other parties.
Monbiot admitted: "I allowed myself to be carried away by a sense of moral outrage. As a result, far from addressing an awful injustice, I contributed to one."
Below is Monbiot's full apology to McAlpine.
"I have helped to malign an innocent man. I have done a few stupid things in my life, but nothing as stupid as this. The tweets I sent which hinted - as I assumed to be the case - that Lord McAlpine was the person the child abuse victim Steve Messham was talking about were so idiotic that, looking back on them today, I cannot believe that I wrote them. But I did and they are unforgiveable.
"I helped to stoke an atmosphere of febrile innuendo around an innocent man and I am desperately sorry for the harm I have done him. I have set out, throughout my adult life, to try to do good; instead I have now played a part in inflicting a terrible hurt upon someone who had done none of the harm of which he was wrongly accused. I apologise abjectly and unreservedly to Lord McAlpine.
"What follows is in no sense an attempt to excuse the tweets I wrote, but simply to try to explain them. I knew that Steve Messham had been treated appallingly and I believed that the terrible things done to him had been compounded by a denial of recognition and a denial of the recourse to the law which was his due. When I saw his interview on Newsnight I was very upset.
"I trusted his account unquestioningly. I was horrified by what he said and by the fact that the identity of the man he was talking about appeared to have been kept secret for so long. I felt a powerful compulsion to do what I have done throughout my career; to help the voiceless to be heard. But in this case I did so without any of the care I usually take when assessing and reporting an issue.
"I allowed myself to be carried away by a sense of moral outrage. As a result, far from addressing an awful injustice, I contributed to one. I have acted in an unprofessional, thoughtless and cruel manner and I am sorry beyond words."
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