Lord McAlpine's counsel, Sir Edward Garnier QC, confirmed to Mr Justice Tugendhat that the action followed last month's Newsnight broadcast about the alleged sexual abuse of boys at the Bryn Estyn children's home in Wales in the 1970s and 1980s.
Two victims claimed that they suffered abuse "at the hands of a leading Conservative politician from the Thatcher years". The item did not name Lord McAlpine, but the programme-makers intended him to be the target of the allegations, he added.
Unfortunately, in fact disastrously, names had already been named. Throughout the day on November 2, Newsnight's forthcoming report had been widely trailed on the internet. Furthermore, Lord McAlpine's name had been linked to it. In the aftermath of Newsnight's broadcast, Lord McAlpine was widely identified as the subject of Newsnight's allegations.
– Sir Edward Garnier QC
In short, Newsnight made the most serious of defamatory allegations about Lord McAlpine, tarring him as a paedophile who was guilty of sexually abusing vulnerable young boys living in care. Those allegations are untrue. As the BBC now accepts, they were utterly baseless. These disgraceful allegations should never have been made.