05 April 2007
BBC pays libel damages over political documentary
The BBC has been forced to pay substantial libel damages to the former secretary of Harold Wilson over a new television drama.
Reports suggest that an out of court settlement of £75,000 in libel damages was agreed between the corporation and Lady Falkender, personal and political secretary to former prime minister Harold Wilson.
The Lavender List, which starred Gina McKee as Lady Falkender and Kenneth Cranham as Harold Wilson, suggested that Lady Falkender had a brief affair with Lord Wilson during his time as premier and blackmailed him into letting her draw up the honours list that preceded his resignation.
Written by Francis Wheen from Private Eye, the BBC has agreed never to screen the docudrama again and has stressed that it had not based The Lavender List on historical fact.
Lord Wilson died in 1995 and Lady Falkender, formerly Marcia Williams, is now 75. The BBC has issued an apology to Lady Falkender and agreed to pay her legal costs as part of the settlement.