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British TV network pays damages over false child sex abuse claim

London:  British commercial television network ITV on Thursday said it had paid out $199,362 to a senior politician who was wrongly linked to child sex abuse by one of its programmes and the BBC.

ITV apologised "unreservedly" to Lord Alistair McAlpine, who is at the centre of a row that felled the BBC's director-general, and said they had agreed to pay his legal costs on top of the $199,362 settlement.

The presenter of chat show "This Morning", Phillip Schofield, had ambushed Prime Minister David Cameron earlier this month with a list of Conservative politicians that were being named in Internet gossip as paedophiles.

Lawyers for McAlpine, who was Conservative treasurer under former premier Margaret Thatcher, said the stunt sparked an avalanche of libellous Internet posts falsely linking him to paedophilia in the wake of a BBC report that did the same.

Four days earlier, the BBC had broadcast an investigation wrongly implicating him in allegations of child sex abuse at a Welsh children's home in the 1970s.

While the report by the BBC's flagship current affairs programme "Newsnight" did not identify McAlpine, he was widely named on social networking sites.

The botched report forced BBC director-general George Entwistle to resign on November 10 and the BBC has paid out $295,056 in damages to McAlpine.

ITV said in a statement: "ITV and Phillip Schofield have now reached agreement with Lord McAlpine to settle his libel claim, made in relation to the This Morning programme broadcast on 8 November 2012.

"ITV and Phillip Schofield apologise unreservedly to Lord McAlpine, have agreed the terms of a statement to be made in open court, and have agreed to pay him damages of $199,362 and his legal costs."

The BBC on Thursday appointed Royal Opera House chief Tony Hall as Entwistle's replacement, charged with pulling the broadcaster out of crisis in the wake of the McAlpine row and a separate child sex scandal over its late star Jimmy Savile.

Allegations that Savile abused hundreds of children over four decades have sparked three internal BBC probes and a major police investigation.

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