A tweet by Commons Speaker's wife Sally Bercow pointed "the finger of blame" at Tory peer Lord McAlpine during a media frenzy over allegations of child sex abuse, the High Court has been told.
Ms Bercow has always denied that the tweet was defamatory.
Sir Edward Garnier QC said it would be difficult to think of a more serious meaning than the one advanced by Lord McAlpine, who was not in court.
He told Mr Justice Tugendhat that his case was founded on the circumstances in which Mrs Bercow decided to tweet the peer's name - the media frenzy over a story that spread "like wildfire".
"The tweet, by itself, suggests that 'Lord McAlpine' has done something wrong. Drawing attention to someone and then adding the expression 'innocent face' hints at wrongdoing and negates any suggestion that the tweet was a neutral query to which the defendant was looking for an answer.
"The inclusion of the words 'innocent face' was giving a nudge and a wink to readers."
Mrs Bercow's counsel, William McCormick QC, told the judge that she promptly tweeted her apologies, provided letters apologising for the distress caused and making clear that the underlying allegations were untrue, and has offered to settle the case.
More top news
We round up the best reaction on social media to the news that Rio Ferdinand is hanging up his boots
Coronation Street stars paid tribute to "caring, loveable and funny" Anne Kirkbride, who played Deirdre Barlow for more than 40 years.
Queens Parks Rangers defender Rio Ferdinand has announced his retirement from football after his wife's recent death.