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Wednesday, 13 June, 2001, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
Archer's mistress 'hid photos of wife'
Lord Archer
Lord Archer denies all the charges against him
Lord Archer's staff had to hunt for photographs of his wife when she came to stay in London because his mistress had hidden them, the Old Bailey has heard.

Andrina Colquhoun removed photographs of Lady Archer from where they were displayed in the millionaire novelist's penthouse flat, the court was told.


It was a kind of joke. We called it hunt the photograph

Angela Peppiatt

Lord Archer's former secretary Angela Peppiatt said they were only put back by herself and colleagues when Lady Archer was in town.

She also said her then employer entertained a string of other girlfriends at the London penthouse.

Mrs Peppiatt was giving evidence for the sixth day against Lord Archer, who denies perjury and perverting the course of justice in the libel trial.

Andrina Colquhoun
Andrina Colquhoun "ran London penthouse"

In 1987 Lord Archer sued the Daily Star for alleging he had slept with prostitute Monica Coghlan, for which he was awarded 500,000 damages.

But despite his claims of a happy marriage he was having an affair with Ms Colquhoun at that time, Mrs Peppiatt said.

She said she, her colleague Caroline Norman, and housekeeper Sylvia Slingsby had had to search for the hidden photographs of Lady Archer before her visits to London.

"If Mary was coming to the apartment, Andrina would have taken all of Mary's photographs," she told the court.

"We would have a couple in the main room where we worked in and she would sort of hide them.

"It was a kind of joke. We called it hunt the photograph."

'Separate lives'

Mrs Peppiatt said Lord and Lady Archer had led "separate lives", apart from when he visited her in Cambridgeshire at weekends.

It was his mistress, Ms Colquhoun, who ran his London penthouse, she said.

Lady Archer
Staff had to hunt for Lady Archer's photographs, the court hears

"Mary didn't really feature at all.

"Andy was very much the person who was in his life at that time in London."

And even then he entertained a number of other girlfriends at his London home, she told the court.

She said that she had bought gifts for six or seven women using her personal credit card, but could not remember the exact number.

Mrs Peppiatt said that Lady Archer came up to London more often to attend political events with her husband after he was made deputy chairman of the Conservative party.

Marching orders

She also told the court that Lord Archer had asked a friend to leave the country during his libel case.

He paid Michael Stacpoole to stay out of England until the 1987 case was over.

Mr Stacpoole was captured on camera as he delivered money at Victoria train station in London to Ms Coghlan.

Angela Peppiatt arrives at court
Angela Peppiatt says she bought gifts for a string of Lord Archer's girlfriends

Payments were made to Mr Stacpoole in Paris of between 1,000 and 3,000 a week or fortnight from Lord Archer's bank account for 10 months, she added.

Lord Archer, 61, denies seven charges alleging dishonesty in relation to his libel action - four counts of perverting justice, two of perjury and one of using a diary as a false instrument.

Television producer Mr Francis, 67, of Surrey, denies one charge of perverting justice.

The court was earlier told that Lord Archer asked Mrs Peppiatt to check what was on television on 9 September 1986 for an alibi during the libel trial.

She said she retyped a solicitor's statement on behalf of her then employer.

Lord Archer is accused of having asked his former friend Mr Francis for a false alibi.

He told solicitors that he had been at home waiting for a call from Mr Francis after they had dined together.

The case was adjourned until Wednesday.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Rory MacLean
"Mrs Peppiatt described the very seperate lives Lord Archer and his wife were leading in the run up to the libel case"
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