Too quick, and too much.
The allegations against Lord McAlpine have been published in print and on the internet since at least October 15th, 1997. And yet Lord McAlpine did not sue for libel. Why not? The BBC lawyers could have used this in their defence.
Given the above it follows that settling for £185,000 was a waste of taxpayer's money.
If something has been in the public domain for some time and no action has been taken then that means it becomes much harder for anyone to claim defamation. If Mr Smith turns round in court and says, 'but two years ago this was published in Magazine Y and you didn't protest then, only when I put it in Magazine X,' it is a strong line of defence.
A man who bears the same surname as a prominent Conservative supporter. Two witnesses have told the tribunal of a rich and powerful man who belonged to the alleged ring.McAlpine and McAlpine.
At the Waterhouse Tribunal:
Gerard Elias QC: “Does the name McAlpine mean anything to you.”
Steven Messham: “Yes, sir.”
Elias: “In what context?”
Messham: “I was also abused by him sexually.”
Sir Ronald Waterhouse: “Is the person you referred to alive or dead?”
Messham: “I believe he is dead.”
Jimmie McAlpine and Alastair (Lord) McAlpine