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Thursday, 12 July, 2001, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
Archer's silence 'could count against him'
Lord Archer
Archer: The libel trial was 14 years ago
The judge in the Lord Archer trial has told the Old Bailey jury the novelist's refusal to give evidence could count against him.

But Mr Justice Potts said jurors should only conclude his silence meant he had no answer to the prosecution's allegations if they were satisfied the case was strong.

The judge started his summing up on Wednesday by instructing the jury to abandon one of the charges against the millionaire novelist.


You must not assume that he is guilty because he has not given evidence

Mr Justice Potts
And he guided the jury on Lord Archer's decision not to give evidence in the case.

"You must not assume that he is guilty because he has not given evidence," he said.

"A defendant's silence at his trial may count against him.

"This is because you may draw the conclusion that he is not giving evidence because he has no answer to the prosecution's case or none that would bear examination."

Charge dropped

Mr Justice Potts said that was not enough to convict Lord Archer, but it could be treated as additional support for the prosecution case.

"You may draw such a conclusion against him only if you think it is a fair and proper conclusion and you are satisfied about two things - first, that the prosecution case is so strong that it clearly calls for an answer by him, and second that the only sensible explanation for his silence is that he has no answer, or none that would bear examination," he added.

Ted Francis
Ted Francis: denies perverting the course of justice
The judge also said the jury need not bring back a verdict on the charge alleging that Lord Archer used an A4 diary as a false instrument.

He said this charge duplicated allegations in one of the other charges and "added nothing" to the other charge of perverting the course of justice.

It is the second charge to be dropped since the beginning of the six-week trial when the former politician faced seven charges of dishonesty in relation to his 1987 libel case against the Daily Star.

The judge has already directed the jury to return a not guilty verdict on a charge of perverting the course of justice in relation to a 1986 diary bought in January 1987.

Lord Archer now faces five charges - three of perverting the course of justice and two of perjury. He denies all counts against him.

His co-defendant and former friend, retired television producer Ted Francis, denies one charge of perverting the course of justice by providing a false alibi.

Genuine diary

Mr Justice Potts said there had been no dispute that another diary - the A53 diary - was a genuine article containing entries by two secretaries and David Faber, Lord Archer's former political assistant.

It contained an entry on Tuesday September 9 1986, for Terence Baker at the Caprice for 2000BST, with the name of another restaurant, the Sambuca, added in former secretary Angela Peppiatt's writing.

Mr Baker, Lord Archer's film agent, gave evidence at the libel trial that he bumped into the peer at the Sambuca the previous evening when The Star alleged he was with the prostitute.

The judge told the jury: "One of the things you will have to ask yourself is: what consequences would there have been in Lord Archer's libel trial if these two pages had been available in Court 13 (at the High Court) to the judge and jury?"

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
reports from the Old Bailey
See also:

06 Jul 01 | UK
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