In paying tribute to Lord McAlpine, who died at the weekend, Lord Tebitt touched upon Sir Denis Thatcher’s attitude towards homosexuality as just one of many reasons why false allegations made against Lord McAlpine in 2012 never had validity.

The former Tory Conservative Party deputy chairman  was wrongly implicated by the BBC’s Newsnight programme over allegations that politicians sexually abused boys in the care of the Bryn Estyn children’s home in Wales in the 1970s and 1980s.

The report did not name Lord McAlpine but he was then wrongly identified on the internet.

The BBC apologised unreservedly and settled his defamation claim for £185,000.

The peer pursued some of those who had named him on Twitter, including the wife of the Speaker of the Commons, Sally Bercow.

Ms Bercow agreed to pay Lord McAlpine £15,000 in damages for her infamous “innocent face” tweet.

Former Tory chairman Lord Tebbit paid tribute to Lord McAlpine on Saturday and explained how the allegations had caused distress for the peer.

Lord Tebbit told the BBC: “He had always got something interesting to say. A very cultured man, very interested in the arts, also much-travelled.

“He seemed to find a quite natural home in Italy in recent years.”

Of the wrongful allegations, Lord Tebbit said: “I think he was pretty upset about it, deeply upset, that anybody would for a moment believe that of him.

“It centred around a faintly ridiculous idea that Alistair had some role in organising a gay sex scandal – well it would have been if it had existed – at Number 10 Downing Street. You only have to ask yourself about what Denis Thatcher would have said about such a proposal to realise it was totally absurd.”

Sir Denis, who died in June 2003, was known for his colourful use of homophobic language.

In his most famous outburst about the BBC, he claimed his wife, Margaret Thatcher, had been “stitched up by bloody BBC poofs and Trots” when she was questioned by a member of the public on TV about the sinking of the Belgrano in 1983 as prime minister.

Lady Thatcher died in May 2013. Her widespread opposition to gay rights in the form of Section 28 has been well documented, although at a personal level, Lady Thatcher’s friends always claimed she “never had a problem” with gay people.

Lord Tebbit was one of the staunchest opponents against the government’s decision to legalise equal marriage during the debates in the House of Lords last year.

He said that David Cameron had “fucked things up” by introducing same-sex marriage, as it would lead to incestuous or polygamous marriage.

Lord Tebbit also argued that gay people are not currently discriminated against as a gay man has the same right to marry a woman as he does.

By coincidence, the first same-sex weddings in England and Wales will take place on the 82-year-old’s birthday, Saturday 29 March.