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Thursday, 7 June, 2001, 20:47 GMT 21:47 UK
'Secret gifts for Archer's mistress'
Jeffrey Archer
Lord Archer has pleaded not guilty to the charges
Lord Archer's former secretary often bought expensive gifts for his mistress on her credit card in order to keep Archer's reputation "whiter than white", the Old Bailey has been told.

Angela Peppiatt, 56, was questioned about her credit card account during the three years she worked for the novelist.

"There were items on there which, yes, I did buy for myself, but the whole point of my credit card was that it was kept so it could be used at any time," she said.


I was very much part of what that was all about. My credit card was used for it and I do feel ashamed of it

Angela Peppiatt
Former secretary
"It could be used if Jeffrey needed me to get something... He was meant to be whiter than white during this period after his trial. He still had his mistress, he still had other girlfriends that came to the flat.

"I was very much part of what that was all about. My credit card was used for it and I do feel ashamed of it."

She said her credit card was the one that was used during the time when he was deputy chairman.

She pointed to one entry for November 1986 and said it was typical of items which she thought Archer would not like "to come out in court".

She said: "It was possibly a Gucci item. I think that was one of the items I was asked to get, and I cannot remember what it was.

Charges denied

"It was the type of gift I would have been asked to buy for Andy - Andy was Jeffrey's mistress at the time," said Mrs Peppiatt, who was called as a witness by the prosecution.

Angela Peppiatt
Angela Peppiatt was questioned about her credit card account
Cross examined by Nicholas Purnell, QC, defending, she was asked if she meant Andrina Colquhoun, and replied: "Yes."

Asked if there was anything else of that type on the page, she replied: "There are possible items I would have got Jeffrey from the chemist."

Lord Archer, 61, resigned from his unpaid post as deputy chairman of the Conservative Party in October 1986 after press reports that he had associated with a prostitute.

The following year he was awarded 500,000 damages in the High Court after suing the Daily Star for libel when it alleged he had slept with the woman.

Lord Archer denies seven charges alleging dishonesty in relation to that action - four counts of perverting justice, two of perjury and one of using a diary as a false instrument.

His former friend, television producer Ted Francis, 67, from Surrey, denies one charge of perverting justice.

Card bills

Earlier Mrs Peppiatt had thanked the judge for allowing her time to examine the credit card statements, which she had not seen for 14 years.

Andrina Colquhoun
It was alleged gifts were bought for Andrina Colquhoun
She said that looking through them she had been reminded that they contained expenditure which did not relate just to her.

"I certainly do not think Jeffrey will be very happy about this. It is something I have not talked about before - items I have bought on his behalf, and I have documentation."

The court has been told that Ms Colquhoun was Mrs Peppiatt's predecessor, and remained a frequent visitor to his penthouse apartment by the River Thames in central London.

Expenses

Mrs Peppiatt had earlier denied "fiddling her expenses", but admitted that she had charged for some personal items, including a family holiday in Greece.

She denied that Lord Archer sacked her in December 1987 for using his blank cheques to write out unauthorised bonuses for herself and other staff.

Mrs Peppiatt said she had resigned from her post and had considered suing Lord Archer but had decided against it.

"Jeffrey had just taken on two national newspapers and won his case - you don't sue Jeffrey Archer," she said.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Dunan Kennedy
"Much of Jeffrey Archer's past private life has been laid bare in court"
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