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The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
reports from the Old Bailey
 real 56k

Tuesday, 5 June, 2001, 19:21 GMT 20:21 UK
Archer secretary 'feared losing job'
Lord Archer
Lord Archer arrives at the Old Bailey on Tuesday
Lord Archer's former secretary has told a jury at his perjury trial that she assisted with his diary "deception" because she did not want to lose her job.

Angela Peppiatt denied receiving any "financial incentive" to put entries into a blank diary before the millionaire author's libel case against the Daily Star newspaper in 1987.

I would not have made these entries if I had not been ordered or instructed to

Angela Peppiatt

Mrs Peppiatt, 56, claims she accepted Archer's explanation that the original diary's political sensitivity had to be protected when he presented her with a list of entries for a day in September 1986.

But she decided to make photocopies when she was asked to take the diary to Lord Archer's solicitors.

"When it got to this stage it was a much deeper deception if you like," she told the Old Bailey on Tuesday.

Nicholas Purnell, QC, defending Archer, asked her: "There was no financial incentive for you to do this?"

She replied there was none, adding: "I did not wish to lose my job."

Jeffrey Archer, 61, denies seven charges including perverting justice and perjury in relation to the libel action against The Star which resulted in him being awarded 500,000 damages.

The newspaper claimed Lord Archer had slept with a prostitute.

'Tampered with diary'

Lord Archer's former friend, television producer Ted Francis, 67, denies perverting the course of justice in relation to an alibi which was not used in court.

The prosecution alleges that Lord Archer produced a forged version of Mrs Peppiatt's main office diary, and tampered with his own diary to cover his movements before the High Court hearing.
Angela Peppiatt
Angela Peppiatt said Archer was not a diary person

Mrs Peppiatt, who now works for an educational charity, was Archer's secretary for three years, during which time he was appointed deputy chairman of the Conservative Party.

She said Archer kept a picnic basket full of signed cheque books in his riverside apartment in central London.

She could not remember how many accounts he had but she thought there were six, including ones for business, private use, shares and theatre.
The four diaries
Diary One: The Appointments Diary which the prosecution says was kept secret at the 1987 libel trial
Diary Two: The 'fake' Appointments Diary allegedly used in the 1987 court case
Diary Three: The Economist working diary kept at Lord Archer's flat, which provided material for the main diary
Diary Four: A second allegedly 'fake' blank diary, eventually not used in the 1987 trial

He would sign several cheques in his various cheque books for her to fill out - including those for staff wages, said Mrs Peppiatt.

"We had a sort of picnic basket which was kept on the shelf of Alembic House (Archer's riverside apartment), in which the cheque books were kept," she told the court.

One of her functions was to keep his diary and prepare a daily card for him listing his immediate engagements.

She said: "Jeffrey didn't carry more paper than he needed to."

She agreed that Archer was paying her about 22,000 a year - substantially more than other staff at Conservative Central Office were receiving.

Second diary

Questioned by Mr Purnell about her claims about the blank diary, Mrs Peppiatt replied: "I have told you the truth.

"I would not have made these entries if I had not been ordered or instructed to."

When he queried if anyone else had been present when she was allegedly instructed, she said: "Jeffrey Archer would not have made such a request in front of anybody else."

Earlier, she told the court that in January 1987, Lord Archer asked her to obtain a second blank diary for 1986.

She said: "I gave it to Jeffrey. I do not recall seeing it again."

The trial was adjourned until Wednesday.

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