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Monday, 11 June, 2001, 16:42 GMT 17:42 UK
Archer's 'happy marriage deceit'
Lord Archer
Lord Archer has pleaded not guilty to the charges
Lord Archer's former secretary was part of a cover-up to keep his reputation "whiter than white" leading up to a libel trial, the Old Bailey has heard.

Angela Peppiatt, 56, told the court that his personal life was put through intense scrutiny in 1987 when he sued the Daily Star for libel for alleging he had slept with prostitute Monica Coghlan.

But he was having an affair with Andrina Colquhoun during the time he faced the allegations, Mrs Peppiatt, 56, said.


Jeffrey was saying to the outside world that he was whiter than white and not having extra-marital affairs

Angela Peppiatt
Former secretary
She added that the picture of a happy marriage that he portrayed during this time was 'all a deceit.'

The court heard that Lord Archer and Miss Colquhoun had pet names for each other. He was known as Moon and she as Roonett.

At one stage, Lord Archer bought two sets of jewellery from the same shop - one for his wife Mary and one for Miss Colquhoun, the court was told.

Mrs Peppiatt said that Lord Archer had asked her to fill in a blank diary before the libel case and had also asked her to do other things to do with the case.

"It was making sure Michael Stacpoole left the country and stayed out of the country until after the trial," she said.

Mr Stacpoole was the man Lord Archer sent to deliver the money to Ms Coghlan at Victoria train station, London, according to a News of the World story submitted to the jury in evidence.

Bonus allegations

Earlier Mrs Peppiatt said she had kept a document relating to Mr Stacpooole.

She said: "I kept the Michael Stacpoole document relating to the fact that Jeffrey wanted him out of the country until after the trial."

Mrs Peppiatt was also questioned over accusations by Lord Archer she had given herself a 10,000 bonus.

She said that she resigned from her post at the end of December 1987 after he made the allegations against her, taking with her invoices and receipts for things she bought on behalf of Lord Archer.

Mrs Peppiatt said: "I took these original documents because I suppose Jeffrey was saying to the outside world that he was whiter than white and not having extra-marital affairs.

'Stolen documents'

"But underneath our very noses we knew exactly what was going on."

Lord Archer's defence barrister Nicholas Purnell QC asked: "So you stole original documents to use for some unspecified purpose. You stole them."

Mrs Peppiatt said: "You can use that word if you want."

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 Ms Coghlan

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 her.

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.

Angela Peppiatt
Angela Peppiatt was questioned about her job
His former friend, television producer Ted Francis, 67, from Surrey, denies one charge of perverting justice.

Roy Amlot QC, for Mr Francis, asked Mrs Peppiatt what in her view had been the relationship between Miss Colquhoun and Lord Archer in September 1986.

"She was his mistress, absolutely - his girlfriend," she said.

"He would buy her clothes, trinkets. He would pay for her if she wanted to go for a girls' week abroad. He looked after her basically."

Mr Amlot asked Mrs Peppiatt what she said about the fact that Lord Archer and his wife had been together "during the currency of the libel trial".

She replied: "It was to show to the outside world that they were as a couple and that Jeffrey could not possibly have been involved in this incident (with Ms Coghlan) or have outside his marriage liaisons."

The hearing was adjourned until Tuesday.

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The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
"Jeffrey Archer's... former secretary accusing him of being involved in an enormous deception"
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