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McAlpine 'could yet bring charges'

It may still be possible to bring criminal charges against anyone who wrongly named Lord McAlpine as a paedophile online under new legal guidelines on social media, Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC has said.

Lord McAlpine was wrongly named following a botched Newsnight investigation into child abuse at a North Wales care home.

The peer has settled two libel actions, receiving 185,000 from the BBC and 125,000 from ITV, together with very substantial costs.

It emerged last month that Scotland Yard were looking into whether any criminal offence had been committed over the scandal.

Mr Starmer published new Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) guidelines meaning fewer people are likely to be prosecuted for sending offensive online messages, but said people could still face criminal charges over the Lord McAlpine affair.

He said: "Any allegations made would fall to be considered under the guidelines.

"Yet maybe, and I'm not going to give a predicted view, but obviously it would be open to him to make a criminal complaint.

"But obviously he might seek to argue that certainly in relation to some individuals it was a campaign of harassment.

"Beyond that if there is a criminal complaint made we'll have to consider it in due course."

Lord McAlpine has vowed to pursue Twitter users who wrongly named him, asking those who linked him to child abuse allegations to apologise formally and pay a "sensible and modest amount" which he plans to donate to BBC Children in Need.

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