George Monbiot, the English self-ordained Green Priest and global warming zealot, has always been a total nincompoop, part of a triumvirate of nincompoops including the wonderfully endearing Tim Flannery of Australia, and the deeply sinister Al Gore of the USA.
And so it is heart-warming to see him admit as such, on his own blog. He writes:
I allowed myself to be carried away by a sense of moral outrage. As a result, far from addressing an awful injustice, I contributed to one.
I have acted in an unprofessional, thoughtless and cruel manner, and I am sorry beyond words.
Actually, it is not so much his daft pronouncements of impending climate Armageddon that his is sorry for, but rather for libelling Lord McAlpine on Twitter. He is right to be worried. Lord McAlpine has already recovered £185,000 from the BBC (who had not even actually named him) and Monbiot’s newspaper, The Guardian has signalled that it has no intention of paying Monbiot’s legal costs, or any damages awarded against him. For a journalist falsely to accuse a Peer of the Realm of child abuse does suggest a substantial award.
Monbiot’s blog says:
I have done a few stupid things in my life, but nothing as stupid as this. The tweets I sent which hinted – as I assumed to be the case – that Lord McAlpine was the person the child abuse victim Steve Messham was talking about were so idiotic that, looking back on them today, I cannot believe that I wrote them.
But I did, and they are unforgiveable. I helped to stoke an atmosphere of febrile innuendo around an innocent man, and I am desperately sorry for the harm I have done him. I have set out, throughout my adult life, to try to do good; instead I have now played a part in inflicting a terrible hurt upon someone who had done none of the harm of which he was wrongly accused. I apologise abjectly and unreservedly to Lord McAlpine.
Well that is an apology, all right. But it clear that what McAlpine wants from the many people who tweeted the libel against him, is not just an apology, but also damages. His solicitor Andrew Reid says that they already have a provisional list of people who had identified Lord McAlpine in the mainstream media and online who he would be contacting and taking action against; they are planning to sue all of them who do not come forward and pay up. He said:
We know who you are and what you have done. It’s easier to come forward and see us and apologise and arrange to settle with us because, in the long run, this is the cheapest and best way to bring this matter to an end.
Mr Reid looks as if he will be engaged on this profitable business for some considerable time. And the defamers will probably be just as shocked by the legal process as the kids who joyfully looted en masse in the recent riots in London, and much to their surprise were rounded up and sent off to jail.