Earlier today, my friend Sally Bercow lost at the High Court on whether her tweet mentioning Lord McAlpine was defamatory or not. (Judgment here.)
She has now released a statement through the Press Association:
In November 2012, I tweeted the question “Why is Lord McAlpine trending? *innocent
face*”. I did not tweet this with malice, and I did not intend to libel Lord McAlpine. I was
being conversational and mischievous, as was so often my style on Twitter.
I very much regret my tweet, and I promptly apologised publicly and privately to Lord
McAlpine for the distress I caused him. I also made two offers of compensation. Lord
McAlpine issued proceedings and the last few months have been a nightmare. I am sure he
has found it as stressful as I have. Litigation is not a pleasant experience for anyone.
Today the High Court found that my tweet constituted a serious libel, both in its natural
meaning and as an innuendo. To say I’m surprised and disappointed by this is an
However, I will accept the ruling as the end of the matter. I remain sorry
for the distress I have caused Lord McAlpine and I repeat my apologies. I have accepted an
earlier offer his lawyers made to settle this matter.
Today’s ruling should be seen as a warning to all social media users. Things can be held to be
seriously defamatory, even when you do not intend them to be defamatory and do not make
any express accusation. On this, I have learned my own lesson the hard way.
I would like to thank my legal team for their wise counsel and my family and friends for their
unequivocal support throughout the last few months.