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David Cameron has warned against "bandying around" the names of child abuse suspects after a senior Tory politician linked to paedophelia claims said the allegations against him are untrue.
Lord McAlpine said the claims were "wholly false and seriously defamatory" and his lawyers have now said that they will take legal action against those who have accused him of child abuse.
"I have never been to the children's home in Wrexham nor have I ever visited any children's home," the peer said. He also added he had only visited Wrexham once, in the company of a Conservative party agent.
"Even though these allegations made of me by implication in the broadcast and print media, and made directly about me on the internet, are wholly false and seriously defamatory I can no longer expect the broadcast and print media to maintain their policy of defaming me only by innuendo," he added.
He offered his sympathy to Steve Messham, a victim of abuse who has implicated Lord McAlpine, saying he did not believe the allegations were "malicious", but that Mr Messham had been "mistaken and identified the wrong person".
Mr Messham has tonight apologised for the allegations, claiming it was a case of mistaken identity. The BBC also apologised "unreservedly for having broadcast" the report which contained the allegations.
The Prime Minister said he had not studied Lord McAlpine's statement in detail, but insisted: "We do have to be very careful before casting aspersions against individuals or bandying people's names around as was being done yesterday without proper evidence. And I think every institution, every journalist, every politician has to think carefully about those things."
Downing St this morning stressed out that the inquiry ordered by Theresa May into the north Wales claims was not focused on allegations of abuse against individuals.
"Serious allegations have been made about the conduct of the police inquiry and subsequent public inquiry and it's right that we look into those. It's not to look at specific allegations into specific individuals," a spokesman said.
A local councillor who was abused at the Wrexham care home told the Guardian he did not believe Lord McAlpine was involved.
The Conservative peer was one of the names on a list of "suspected paedophiles" handed to David Cameron by presenter Philip Schofield on yesterday's This Morning programme.
Tory MP Rob Wilson has already complained to Ofcom about the incident, for which Mr Schofield has already issued an apology.
In a separate development last night, a video was posted on the internet of celebrity publicist Max Clifford allegedly revealing former Tory MP Alan Clark had "interfered" with two 14-year-old girls.
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09/11/2012 on BBC News
09/11/2012 on BBC News
09/11/2012 on PM, BBC Radio 4
09/11/2012 on Channel 4 News
09/11/2012 on Any Questions?, BBC Radio 4
09/11/2012 on Newsnight, BBC 2
Summaries and transcripts from TV and radio
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58 minutes ago on Today, BBC Radio 4
1 hour ago on Today, BBC Radio 4