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Wednesday, 22 March, 2000, 13:17 GMT
The Speaker receives press damages

Betty Boothroyd was upset over the allegations
The Speaker, Betty Boothroyd, has been paid "substantial" damages over newspaper articles that suggested she had been the mistress of the late Lord Walston and had overseen disreputable weekend parties.

Ms Boothroyd issued a statement on Wednesday saying she will give the damages from the Daily Express and The Spectator to charity.

Both articles were written by journalist William Cash.

Disreputable parties

The statement, issued from her office said: "Both [articles] implied that the Speaker, the Rt Hon Betty Boothroyd MP, had overseen disreputable weekend parties at the country home of the late Lord Walston and that she had been his mistress.

"The two publications and Mr Cash have accepted that any such suggestions would be wrong and have published apologies to the Speaker in the Express for 16 March and the Spectator for 19 February."

Speaker upset

A spokesman for the Speaker said: "The Speaker was very upset when she saw what the two articles had said about her.

"She worked as Lord Walston's secretary for several years before she entered Parliament and, as Lady Walston became increasingly ill with the cancer that eventually killed her, her duties both in London and Cambridgeshire became more onerous.

"At no stage, however, was her relationship with Lord Walston other than entirely proper and she remains a firm family friend of the late Lord and Lady Walston's children."

The statement added that if th epublications had not accepted they were at fault, the matter would have been pursued in the High Court.

Lord Walston was made a Labour life peer in 1961 and was a junior minister in the House of Lords under Harold Wilson.

He left Labour for the SDP in 1981. He died in 1991.

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