Lord McAlpine 'wrongly linked' to Wales sex abuse scandal
Tory peer ends frenzied internet chatter with press statement as former care home resident explains ‘mistaken identity’
THE SENIOR Conservative figure at the centre of allegations of sex abuse in north Wales, whose name has been guarded by the mainstream media but widely disseminated on the internet in recent days, is probably the victim of mistaken identity, according to evidence obtained by The Guardian.
The paper finally names 'X' - as he has been referred to until now - as Lord (Alistair) McAlpine, who served as Conservative party treasurer under Margaret Thatcher in the 1970s and 80s.
He has been widely named online as the prominent Thatcher-era Tory figure discussed by Steve Messham, a former resident of the Bryn Estyn Children's Home (pictured above), on Newsnight last week.
Messham said that when he was a boy living at the home in the 1970s, the man would arrive in a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce and take him to a Wrexham hotel where he was abused.
Now Keith Gregory, a Wrexham councillor who was himself a victim of abuse at Bryn Estyn, has told The Guardian that he does not believe that Lord McAlpine was ever involved and that he is the victim of mistaken identity.
Gregory said there was a man who used to visit Bryn Estyn "who would turn up in an expensive car - 'a right flashy thing'." Children at the home believed this man was a member of the wealthy McAlpine family, who owned two grand homes in the area.
Jimmie McAlpine, who chaired the north of England builders Alfred McAlpine Ltd, lived nearby at Gerwyn Hall until he died in 1991. As The Daily Telegraph reports, he was said in his Times obituary to have an interest in vintage cars, and to have amassed "what was at one time the biggest private collection in Britain".
However, Gregory told the Guardian that although boys from Bryn Estyn were taken by van to work in the grounds of the McAlpine homes, he was not aware of any abuse of children at either house. And, as the Guardian reports, "there is no other credible evidence of such abuse".
Alistair McAlpine, who lives in Italy, has always claimed that he only ever visited the town of Wrexham once in his life, and that was on party business, and that he did not own a Rolls Royce. He was exonerated by the 1997 Waterhouse Inquiry into abuse at north Wales care homes. He has been referred to as ‘X’ until now because Judge Waterhouse banned the press from identifying any victims or alleged accusers.
Today, in the light of the Guardian report, he issued a press statement in which he said: “I have never been to the children’s home in Wrexham, nor have I ever visited any children’s home, reform school or any other institution of a similar nature... I did not sexually abuse Mr Messham or any other residents of the children’s home in Wrexham.”
Any abuse of children was “abhorrent”, he said, and he had “absolutely no sympathy” for the adults who committed these crimes. “Those who have been convicted were deservedly punished and those who have not yet been brought to justice should be as soon as possible.”
Because McAlpine's name has been bandied about online, journalists have "mobbed" his home in Italy, according to the Guardian. This issue has perhaps arisen too late for a mention in Lord Justice Leveson's report on press ethics, due to be published at the end of November, but among some MPs the growing question is – never mind controlling the press, what about the internet?