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Thursday, 19 July, 2001, 11:38 GMT 12:38 UK
Ted Francis: Archer whistleblower
Ted Francis
Ted Francis: Exposed his former friend
TV producer Ted Francis first met Lord Archer in 1970. Over the years the two became good friends.

When the peer requested he agree to say they had been having dinner together on a night in September 1986 - Mr Francis said he assumed he was being asked to protect Lord Archer from a possible divorce.

But it was alleged that Lord Archer wanted an alibi in the run-up to the libel case in 1987, in which he was accused by a newspaper of having sex with a prostitute, Monica Coghlan.

In the end Archer won the case without any reference to the pair of them dining together.

But when the two fell out some years later Mr Francis decided to expose the story.

The actor and the politician

Lord Archer
Mr Francis said Lord Archer humiliated him
The two men first met in 1970 to discuss a movie deal that Mr Francis was trying to put together.

Mr Francis was an actor who had worked in the City before embarking on a career in TV. Lord Archer was then an up-and-coming Conservative MP. The movie deal never came off but the two kept in touch.

A few years later Lord Archer was down on his luck having resigned as MP for Louth following the loss of 400,000 at the hands of fraudsters in a business deal in Canada.

He arrived at Mr Francis's West End office with a sheaf of longhand notes he hoped would bring him renewed riches.

Mr Francis told Lord Archer the story was good. Within months, Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less became Lord Archer's first published work and eventually a best-seller and TV series, netting millions.

False alibi

So it was to Mr Francis that Lord Archer turned in 1987 when he needed some help.

"He (Lord Archer) said, 'What were you doing on September 9 last year?' I said, 'God, I don't know', bearing in mind this was four months later," said Mr Francis.

"I said 'I don't know, I could check in my diary' and he said, 'Could we have been having dinner?'

"'I want you to do me a favour and say we were having a dinner. I was having dinner with somebody else on that night but it would embarrass me with Mary' (Lady Archer).

"'So will you say it was with you and not with Andrina (Colquhoun)' as it turned out."

Mr Francis said: "I was a bit reluctant to do it at first.

"I said 'Yes, but if it's going to end in divorce or anything, I'm not going to commit perjury for you'."

"I knew that he (Lord Archer) and Andrina were close and I connected it automatically with that. I guess there had been strains put on his marriage by his relationship with Andrina."

Soon afterwards, Lord Archer was initially receptive to Francis's development work for a children's TV series based on some Enid Blyton stories.

Mr Francis said he needed 100,000 for the project and Archer promised a 25,000 investment.

"Jeffrey told me he would like to invest 25,000 personally," Mr Francis reportedly told newspapers.

'Deeply hurt'

Max Clifford's brother was at school with Mr Francis
But when Mr Francis collected his promised money from the bank it was 12,000.

Mr Francis said Lord Archer told him the money was a gift not a loan, saying: "I don't expect to see this back, you know."

However, the arrangement was eventually to sour their friendship. Mr Francis said he was invited to one of Archer's famous 'champagne and shepherd's pie' gatherings in his penthouse overlooking the Thames in 1990.

Mr Francis was approached by Lord Archer as he was chatting to an actress, he said. Archer reportedly said: "You want to watch this man, you know. I lent him 20,000 once and I'm still waiting to get the money back."

Mr Francis said: "She was dreadfully embarrassed and I was deeply hurt. For a start it was untrue, it was only 12,000, and it was an investment, not a loan.

"He humiliated me in front of my peers. I didn't understand why."

When Lord Archer became the Conservative candidate for London mayor, Mr Francis decided to expose his former friend and blow the whistle on the false alibi.

Publicist Max Clifford, brother of Bernard Clifford, with whom Mr Francis had been at school, helped him make a 20,000 deal with the News of the World.

Mr Francis said: "I disapproved of the idea of Jeffrey Archer becoming Mayor of London. That basically is the motivation."

But the decision to sell the story backfired.

Mr Francis found himself charged with perverting the course of justice and standing in the dock at the Old Bailey alongside Lord Archer.



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