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Wednesday, 27 June, 2001, 17:01 GMT 18:01 UK
Archer will not give evidence
Lord Archer arrives at the Old Bailey 27 June
Archer: Cleared of one of seven dishonesty charges
Lord Archer has decided not to give evidence in the witness box at his Old Bailey perjury trial.

The millionaire peer's lawyer, Nicholas Purnell QC, told the jury he would not be calling Lord Archer as a witness, as he opened the case for the defence.

He said the novelist would not take the stand because by not putting him in the witness box "the focus will not be on Lord Archer, it will be where it properly should be - on the evidence".

On the direction of the judge, the jury found Lord Archer not guilty of one count of perverting the course of justice. He still faces six other charges.


The focus will not be on Lord Archer, it will be where it properly should be - on the evidence

Nicholas Purnell QC on Lord Archer's decision not to take the stand
The judge asked Mr Purnell if he had advised Lord Archer that by choosing not to give evidence "the jury may draw such inferences as appear proper from his failure to do so."

But Mr Purnell told the jury not to draw any "adverse inferences" from Lord Archer's non-appearance.

He did not want jurors, or the press, to shift their attention "from the prosecution evidence to the defendant on trial", he said shortly after the prosecution completed its case.

Mr Purnell said there were many inconsistencies in the prosecution evidence, particularly that from Lord Archer's former secretary Angela Peppiatt.

Taped phone call

Mrs Peppiatt has claimed the novelist asked her to buy a diary and write false dates in it.

Mr Purnell said no-one had given any evidence of Lord Archer's involvement in using the diaries.

Angela Peppiatt outside the Old Bailey during the prosecution case
Angela Peppiatt: "Unreliable" evidence
During the prosecution case, the jury heard a phone call between Lord Archer and his friend Ted Francis, taped by the News of the World.

Mr Francis, 67, of Cranleigh, Surrey, denies one count of perverting the course of justice by providing a false alibi for Lord Archer.

Mr Purnell said the phone call had been deliberately leading.

The case was one in which newspaper journalists had "commissioned, drafted and orchestrated, and then put into effect, a series of lies," Mr Purnell said.


He has always been generous and trusting of others and worthy of trust in himself

Gilbert Gray QC, Lord Archer's friend
The QC then called several character witnesses for Lord Archer.

Hollywood producer Frank Marshall said he had a "great deal of respect" for Lord Archer, who he has known since 1973.

"He has always been a good friend," he said. "He has been kind and generous and sincere and honest."

Sir John Lacey, former election adviser for the Conservative party, described Lord Archer as "very honest and trustworthy".

Gilbert Gray, QC, said his old friend had been "shocked" by Mrs Peppiatt's bitter resignation.

"As I found him he has always been generous and trusting of others and worthy of trust in himself," he said.

Cleared on charge

The count of perverting the course of justice on which Lord Archer was cleared alleged he had asked Mrs Peppiatt to buy a diary, intending to make false entries in it.

Lord Archer helps up a photographer
Lord Archer helps a photographer who fell in the media scrum
The judge said he had found there was insufficient evidence that the diary was used in the 1987 case for the count to stand.

Lord Archer denies three further counts of perverting the course of justice, two counts of perjury, and one of using a diary as a false instrument.

The charges relate to the 1987 libel trial in which Lord Archer won 500,000 damages from the Daily Star for alleging that he slept with a prostitute.

The hearing was adjourned until Thursday.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Duncan Kennedy at the Old Bailey
"Instead, the defence called a succession of Archer's friends as character witnesses"
Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


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