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Tony Blackburn tells Lord Hall: Say sorry or I'll see you in court

February 28, 2016 5:51 pm

Legal letter from Blackburn gives BBC director-general 48 hours to apologise or face defamation suit

Tony Blackburn has sent a formal defamation warning to BBC director-general Tony Hall, telling him he faces court unless he apologises on Monday.

A letter outlining two potential defamation suits arrived at the offices of Lord Hall of Birkenhead on Saturday from the veteran broadcaster’s legal team, sources told The Telegraph.

Both Blackburn and his solicitor, Martin Howe, claim they were misrepresented by Hall during interviews on BBC news.

An insider said: “The letter warns that this will go all the way unless Hall apologies by end of play Monday.”

Blackburn is also taking legal action for “wrongful termination of contract” after he was fired by the BBC because his evidence to Smith did not match theirs.

He is now flying to the Caribbean with his family after claiming the BBC were secretly willing to cut a deal with him to return to the corporation if he agreed to become a scapegoat over the Dame Janet Smith inquiry.

The veteran broadcaster, 73, said bosses offered to bring him back within a “few months” if he resigned over his statement regarding a complaint against him to bosses by teenager Claire McAlpine in 1971.

He was eventually fired after denying in evidence that he had ever been made aware of the compaint, even though the BBC told the inquiry he had.

However, Blackburn said the corporation “appears to be protecting” former executives.

He said: “They gave me the chance to resign, saying ‘that way you don’t cut off all ties from the BBC and we can probably bring you back in a few months’. I said no.”

Blackburn said he wished he had been investigated at the time of the allegation so he could prove his innocence, adding: “But I only heard of this in 2012, I think it was."

He said: “If something as serious as this [the allegation] really happened, why was I not taken off Radio 1? Why was I not taken off Top of the Pops?

“I once made a remark that the miners should go back to work and I got taken off for a couple of weeks. If I’d been reprimanded by the BBC I would have remembered.”

Yesterday a close friend of the 15-year-old girl at the centre of the claims made fresh claims that she was abused by a “world famous” singer she met on Top of the Pops.

Kelly Gold, a close friend of Miss McAlpine and victim of paedophile DJJimmy Savile, waived her anonymity to claim the teenager was taken to a hotel by the star after being picked out of the crowd on the BBC show in 1971.

The former nurse, 60, told the Sunday Mirror BBC roadies picked Miss McAlpine before she was “whisked away” to spend the night with the star at the hotel in west London.

Weeks later, Miss McAlpine committed suicide at her home in Watford.