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Monday, 18 June, 2001, 12:39 GMT 13:39 UK
Archer 'had many infidelities'
Lady Archer and Lord Archer
Alibi requests 'were not out of the ordinary'
Lord Archer's extra-marital infidelities and requests for alibis to cover his tracks were not uncommon, the Old Bailey has heard.

The former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party had had "many infidelities", including one during a trip to Nigeria, the jury at his perjury trial was told.

Lord Archer's friend Ted Francis agreed to provide a false alibi because he thought one such indiscretion had previously caused trouble with Lady Archer.


He cited many infidelities, one of which took place in Nigeria

Neville Thurlbeck,
News of the World
It was only during Lord Archer's libel trial in 1987 that Mr Francis realised the alibi had been intended for the case.

Lord Archer and Mr Francis face dishonesty charges after the News of the World newspaper revealed in November 1999 that Mr Francis had been asked before the trial to provide a false alibi for 9 September, 1986.

The alibi was never used because the Daily Star, which had alleged the novelist had sex with prostitute Monica Coghlan, realised the date in question was the day before.

Cover-up

Lord Archer, 61, who won 500,000 damages, now denies four counts of perverting the course of justice, two counts 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.

News of the World reporter Neville Thurlbeck told the court on Monday that Mr Francis had thought long and hard before agreeing to allow the newspaper to tape his telephone conversations with Lord Archer.

Ted Francis
Ted Francis denies perverting the course of justice
"Ted Francis told me that he was providing a false alibi for Lord Archer because he was requested to do so to cover-up an extra-marital indiscretion," he said.

"Mr Francis only realised that he had provided an alibi for the libel trial and not for the marital indiscretion after the libel trial had actually taken place."

Mr Thurlbeck said Mr Francis explained that during the course of their friendship, he knew of Lord Archer's previous marital infidelities.

"He cited many infidelities, one of which took place in Nigeria, and cited that such a request was not out of the ordinary," he said.

Last week recordings of telephone calls between Lord Archer and Mr Francis, taped by the News of the World in an attempt to get him to confess to making up a false alibi, were played to the Old Bailey jury.

Publicist Max Clifford also told the court that Mr Francis had approached him about the story because he did not want Lord Archer to be Mayor of London.

The case continues.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Duncan Kennedy at the Old Bailey
"Lord Archer denies asking Ted Francis for a false alibi"
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