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Thursday, 19 July, 2001, 13:33 GMT 14:33 UK
1987: Sex, money and politics
Monica Coghlan
Monica Coghlan: Lord Archer paid her 2,000
In October 1986 a sensational story hit the tabloid headlines. The deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, Jeffrey Archer, was accused of paying money to a prostitute.

The story was first broken by the News Of the World following a sting operation.

The paper secretly photographed Lord Archer's aide, Michael Stacpoole, giving a brown envelope containing 2,000 to Monica Coghlan at London's Victoria train station.

The newspaper ran a front page story under the headline "Tory boss Archer pays off vice girl". As a result of the scandal Lord Archer resigned his post.

'Error of judgement'

Lord Archer acknowledged he had given Miss Coghlan money - but denied he had ever met her.

He said the money was intended to help her leave the country because she had told him she was being hounded by journalists.

Mary Archer
Mary Archer: Loyal to her husband
Lord Archer admitted it was "an error of judgement".

The Daily Star reported that Lord Archer and Miss Coghlan had spent the night together. Lord Archer sued for libel.

At the outset of the Daily Star's allegations it was not clear which night the paper thought Lord Archer had spent with Miss Coghlan.

The night in question

Originally it was 9 September 1986, but later - and this was the date in the libel trial - it was alleged to be 8 September 1986. Lord Archer had alibis for both nights which placed him elsewhere.

  • 8 September: Lord Archer said that he had dinner at one of his favourite restaurants, Le Caprice in St James's Place, where he met Terence Baker, a film agent.

    Mr Baker - who died in 1991 - testified in 1987 that just before 1am, the time Lord Archer had been accused of being with Miss Coghlan, the politician had driven him back to his home in Camberwell, south London.

    Ted Francis
    Ted Francis: Covered for Lord Archer

  • 9 September: In January 1987 Lord Archer's friend Ted Francis, a TV producer, wrote a letter which said that they had been dining together at Sambuca, an Italian restaurant off Sloane Square, on the night in question.

    Mr Francis said they had met to discuss film and television projects and that he left at 9.45pm to be home in time for a business call from America.

    He continued the cover story later into the night by saying he telephoned Archer shortly after 11.20pm.

    In 1999 Mr Francis admitted his story had been a fabrication. He said he thought he had been covering for an affair.

    'Fragrant' Mary Archer

    During the 1987 libel trial Mary Archer famously took the stand to support her husband.

    The judge was so impressed by her demeanour that he mused why any husband would seek the company of a prostitute when he had Mrs Archer at home.

    Summing up, Mr Justice Caulfield described Mrs Archer as a vision of "elegance, fragrance and radiance".

    Lord Archer won his libel action and was awarded 500,000 damages.



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