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Friday, 15 June, 2001, 17:43 GMT 18:43 UK
Court hears Archer 'confession'
Lord Archer
Lord Archer denies the charges against him
Telephone calls between Lord Archer and his friend Ted Francis, taped by a newspaper in an attempt to get him to confess to making up a false alibi, have been played to an Old Bailey jury.

Mr Francis told News of the World reporters how Lord Archer had asked him for a false alibi for the night he was accused of having sex with prostitute Monica Coghlan, the court heard.

The date of the alleged sexual liaison was later changed and the Francis alibi was not needed in the 1987 libel trial in which Lord Archer won 500,000 damages.

Ted Francis
Ted Francis denies perverting the course of justice
Lord Archer, 61, denies four counts of perverting the course of justice, two of perjury and one of using a diary as a false instrument.

Mr Francis, 67, of Cranleigh, Surrey, denies one charge of perverting the course of justice.

On the tapes, Lord Archer admits he did not have dinner with Mr Francis on the specified date and warns: "We don't want to go to a court of law with this."

The conversations were taped on Mr Francis' agreement, News of the World reporter Neville Thurlbeck told the court.

In the first tape, Mr Francis reminds Lord Archer about him asking to say they had dinner together.

The novelist says: "We'll have to be careful, Ted."

Lord Archer tells him he has Mr Francis' name in his diary for the night. But he later says: "I definitely had dinner that night at that restaurant. It wasn't with you."

The journalist said Mr Francis had told him the dinner date had been Andrina Colquhoun, Lord Archer's former personal assistant and named in court as his mistress.

'No clue'

In the last telephone call, Mr Francis queries whether Miss Colquhoun might tell anyone. Lord Archer replies: "She does not know. She doesn't have a clue."

Mr Thurlbeck said Mr Francis had told him he had earlier approached Lord Archer for 20,000 for a production.

(Mr Francis) just wanted to make sure the truth came out

Max Clifford
The novelist had not been interested, but after agreeing to provide the alibi, Lord Archer had allegedly told Mr Francis the money was "as good as his".

In one of the telephone conversations, Mr Francis is heard telling Lord Archer that he had signed an agreement for 20,000 but was only given 12,000.

Mr Francis was introduced to the reporter by publicist, Max Clifford.

Mr Clifford, who has known the television producer for many years, told the court Mr Francis wanted to "expose" Lord Archer because he wanted him out of the race for Mayor of London.

He said: "He was concerned Jeffrey Archer might become Mayor of London and he could not stand by and let that happen. He just wanted to make sure the truth came out."


He said Mr Francis could have made 150,000 from selling the story, but only received 14,000 "to buy a second-hand car" and 5,000 for a charity of his choice. Mr Clifford got 30,000 as commission.

The court has been told that Lord Archer stood down as the a candidate for mayor in October 1999 when the newspaper published Mr Francis' story.

Publicist Max Clifford
Publicist Max Clifford helped Mr Francis sell his story

Questioned by Roy Amlot QC, for Mr Francis, Mr Clifford said the television producer had thought the alibi was because Lord Archer was dining with a girlfriend and did not want his wife to know.

Mr Francis had told him: "I said I would give him an alibi for his wife but I would not lie in court for him."

Mr Amlot asked him: "He was told the problem was with Mary Archer not with libel proceedings?"

Mr Clifford: "Yes, it was purely for her."

The hearing has been adjourned until Monday.

The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
"At one point the conversation turned to the date of the alibi"
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