The West

Lord McAlpine dies
Lord Alistair McAlpine. File picture: Leon Mead

The father of Broome tourism and quirky British politician Alistair McAlpine has died at the age of 71.

His family said Lord McAlpine died peacefully at his home in Italy on Friday.

Lord McAlpine was a former Conservative Party deputy chairman and treasurer but was best known in WA as the man who put Broome on the map for overseas travellers.

In Britain he was also known as the former aide to Margaret Thatcher who was wrongly accused of child abuse in a BBC report that led to a major crisis at the broadcaster.

British Prime Minister David Cameron led tributes to McAlpine, who, as a key fundraiser, helped secure Thatcher's three election triumphs that made her Britain's longest-serving leader in the 20th century.

"My thoughts are with Lord McAlpine's family - he was a dedicated supporter of Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative party," Cameron said on Twitter.

Love affair with Broome

Lord McAlpine, a British investor, author and raconteur, is credited with transforming Broome from pearling centre and remote coastal town into a modern tourism marvel.

He arrived in town int he late 1970s and bought the then doomed Sun Pictures.

He returned time and again, and in the early 80s purchased the site on which he would build Cable Beach Club Resort and Spa.

The deal was famously sealed in a pub - he signed a contract on the back of a beer coaster.

When Lord McAlpine bought the block, it was the spot for a resort in Broome.

The State Government joined Lord McAlpine in a $34 million joint venture and the resort opened in 1988 - the biggest and most expensive development the town had seen.

In March 2012, Lord McAlpine said he was concerned at the prospect of eco-hotels opening up through the Kimberley and people arriving to them on buses and in “gas guzzling” 4-wheel drives.

He was in Broome to be honoured as Freeman of the Municipality of Broome.

Last year, Broome businesspeople paid to have the entrepreneur's likeness immortalised in a bronze statue. They said the $36,000 sculpture was a fitting gesture to the man who put Broome on the map.

BBC scandal

Lord McAlpine largely disappeared from public view after Thatcher's fall from power in 1990 until a 2012 BBC report accused an unnamed "leading Conservative politician from the Thatcher years" of sexually abusing boys in the 1970s and 1980s.

Lord McAlpine was widely named on the Internet as the subject of the report, which the BBC later admitted was wrong, sparking one of the worst crises in the British public broadcaster's 90-year history.

The scandal caused the then Director General George Entwistle to resign after the abuse victim central to the BBC investigation said McAlpine was not one his attackers.
The publicly-owned broadcaster paid 185,000 pounds ($304,000) to McAlpine, who also received damages from others who had reported the story.

In a closely-watched Twitter libel case, the wife of a British parliamentarian paid damages to McAlpine after a court ruled her tweet, "Why is Lord McAlpine trending? *Innocent face*", was defamatory.

Several other people with wide followings on Twitter, who had also repeated the false allegation, voluntarily settled out of court.

McAlpine, a property developer who was also a gallery owner and art collector, died peacefully at his home in Italy on Friday, his family said.

The West Australian

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