The Truth about Goats
Willing to litigate until the cows come home (and before his own personal chickens come home to roost) the late Lord McAlpine was a staunch defender of people’s reputations – provided they did not work for him in the construction industry. So while the BBC and ITV were made to pay over £300,000 in damages for suggesting ill of Lord McAlpine, his Lordship had no such qualms blacklisting hundreds of workers.
Once having funded the database, McAlpine merrily spent two decades defaming trade unionists while spending a lifetime himself avoiding legal taxes. Meanwhile as the 256 besmirched workers share more than £10m in compensation, they may reflect on the irony that it took twenty years to clear their names, while it took Lord McAlpine just ten minutes on Twitter to clear his.
One lawyer observed: ‘Admittedly Lord McAlpine owned paintings by Graham Ovenden – work that even the Tate Gallery thought was as dodgy as f@ck – but it doesn’t mean he was into anything illegal. By contrast anyone moaning about minimum wages or health and safety on a building site, is clearly some kind of deviant’.
Cynics might suggest that this is an example of one rule for one; where someone was allowed to pursue an illegal vetting system, while they themselves would struggle to pass a DBS check or basic tax return. The firms involved offered the High Court an ‘unreserved apology’ for impacting on the job prospects and personal lives of those involved, although they threatened: ‘Sally Bercow better not post a smiley face!’