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EDITIONS
Thursday, 5 July, 2001, 13:43 GMT 14:43 UK
Jury asked to question Archer's silence
Lord Archer with sons James (left) and William
Lord Archer's sons accompanied him to court
The jury in the Lord Archer perjury trial has been told to consider why a "gifted communicator" chose not to take the witness stand to defend himself against such serious accusations.

In his closing speech, David Waters QC, prosecuting, said: "You may think that if one is wrongly accused of something, it is a very strong instinct to want to reply to it and explain why the accusations are wrong.

"If you are innocent, and therefore feel the truth will stand up to cross-examination, you would want to go in order to declare that truth, particularly if you are a gifted communicator."


When ambition is in the arena his good qualities are pushed to one side

David Waters QC
Lord Archer denies six charges of dishonesty relating to his libel action against The Star newspaper in 1987. He has been cleared of one charge of perverting the course of justice.

He was awarded 500,000 damages after he successfully sued the newspaper for alleging he had slept with prostitute Monica Coghlan in September 1986.

His co-defendant, retired television producer Ted Francis, 67, denies one charge of perverting the course of justice in providing him with a false alibi for the night in question.

The date of the alleged sexual liaison was later changed and the Francis alibi was not needed

'Expediency and dishonesty'

Mr Waters told the jury to ask themselves if Lord Archer's ambition in life and in politics was the root of his "expediency and dishonesty".

Because of his ambition he was less than honest with his political masters over his affair with mistress Andrina Colquhoun, the jury was told.

"When ambition is in the arena his good qualities are pushed to one side and replaced by more basic feelings," said Mr Waters.

Witnesses have told the court Lord Archer carried on the affair despite promising then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, and others it was over.

Mr Waters said whatever Mr Francis understood, he was recruited by Lord Archer to give him a false alibi in relation to the prostitute allegations.

Ted Francis
Ted Francis denies perverting the course of justice
Mr Waters said: "Again that was to avoid disastrous consequences to his political ambitions.

"When ambition is in the arena, are those good qualities pushed to one side and replaced by more basic defects and perhaps dishonesty - which can be pursued almost with a touch of arrogance."

Mr Waters said the jury might think Lord Archer had been unlucky in having to ask Mr Francis for an alibi after a mix up over dates, when he already had an alibi for the right evening.

"He is entirely the author of his own misfortune," said Mr Waters.

He brushed aside suggestions that Lord Archer's former secretary Angela Peppiatt had faked a diary used in the libel action of her own accord.

Lady Archer sat listening at the back of the court with their sons, William, 29, and James, 27.

The jury of six men and six women are due to retire next week to consider verdicts on six charges of perverting the course of justice, perjury and using a diary as a false instrument.

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