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Tuesday, 5 June, 2001, 14:09 GMT 15:09 UK
Archer secretary tells of second diary
Lord Archer
Lord Archer denies the charges against him
Lord Archer's former secretary has told a court how he asked her to buy an out-of-date diary just before his 1987 libel action against a newspaper.

Angela Peppiatt told the Old Bailey she asked a friend to buy the 1986 Economist diary which she then passed on to the former Conservative party chairman.

This second diary - which Lord Archer used himself - was subsequently produced for his successful libel action against the Daily Star in 1987.

On Monday, Mrs Peppiatt had told the jury at Lord Archer's perjury trial that he had also asked her to fill names in another blank diary before the libel trial.

Jeffrey didn't carry more paper than he needed to

Angela Peppiatt
Lord Archer is accused of using a forged or falsified diary to provide an alibi for use in the libel case.

The prosecution alleges he made false diary entries to cover up his whereabouts on the night the newspaper claimed he was with a prostitute.

He is also accused of four charges of perverting the course of justice and two counts of perjury, but denies all the charges.

Lord Archer, 61, was awarded 500,000 damages after successfully suing the Star for libel in 1987.

Angela Peppiatt
Angela Peppiatt said Archer was not a diary person

Mrs Peppiatt, who started work for Lord Archer in January 1985, also told the court on Tuesday her boss had a basket full of signed cheque books for various accounts.

She said she could not remember how many accounts the best-selling novelist had in 1986, but he would sign several cheques in different cheque books for her to fill out - including those for staff wages.

'Cheque book basket'

She told the court: "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.

"There was a business account and a private account. I remember there was a share account and a theatre account," she said.

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
In 1986-87 Lord Archer was paying her about 22,000 a year - substantially more than other staff at Conservative Central Office.

In cross-examination Mrs Peppiatt, who claims Archer asked her to write appointments for September 1986 in a blank diary, said her former boss "was not a diary person".

One of her functions was to keep his dairy and prepare a daily card for him listing his immediate engagements, she said, adding: "Jeffrey didn't carry more paper than he needed to."

When pressed by Nicholas Purnell QC, for Lord Archer, about the exact date she was asked to fill in the entries for September 1986, Mrs Peppiatt said she could not remember.

Mr Purnell said: "Is that the best you can do?"

Mrs Peppiatt replied: "I'm telling you the truth."

The trial continues.

The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
Reports on proceedings from the Old Bailey
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