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Thursday, 19 July, 2001, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
Silent role for Lord Archer
Lord Archer
Lord Archer: No performance in court
By the BBC's Ben McCarthy

Lord Archer spent six weeks on trial at the Old Bailey but declined to give evidence.

His defence team argued that the verdict should be reached purely on the strength of the prosecution case and not by the performance of the accused.

So while Lord Archer may have had the central role - the speaking parts were left to others.

The co-accused

Ted Francis
Ted Francis: Gave Lord Archer an alibi
Throughout his career Lord Archer has both courted and confronted the media.

His trial at the Old Bailey came 14 years after he had successfully sued The Star newspaper, over claims he had slept with a prostitute.

Before that trial in 1987 he had asked his friend, and co-defendant Ted Francis to provide a false alibi for him.

Mr Francis claimed he had been asked to say the two of them had been dining together at a London restaurant.

The court heard secret tape-recordings of telephone conversations between the two defendants in which Mr Francis tried to make Lord Archer talk about the false alibi.

Ted Francis: "You said well we had dinner here didn't we? I said yes fine, if you say. Do you remember?

Lord Archer: "We've got be careful, Ted. We don't want to end up in a court of law with this."

The publicist Max Clifford acted as the go between for Mr Francis when he sold his story to the News of the World. He says his client broke his silence after 14 years to stop Lord Archer running for mayor of London.

"Ted's view was that as a lightweight, shall we say, MP and a writer of dreadful books - no problems at all but mayor of London carries a lot of potential power. There's no way that man should be mayor of London - that's the reason," said Mr Clifford.

Further allegations that Lord Archer lied in his libel trial centred around his appointments diaries. The prosecution claimed he had faked them to cover his tracks.

The secretary

Angela Peppiatt
Angela Peppiatt: The keeper of the diaries
The evidence was provided by three of the most important people in Lord Archer's life; his secretary, his mistress and his wife.

Angela Peppiatt had been Lord Archer's secretary and personal assistant for two years and enjoyed enormous trust from her boss.

She claimed that just before his libel case against The Star newspaper, he had asked her to produce a fake diary to account for his movements.

She told the court: "I was seriously concerned about becoming involved in a deception." But, she said, she was also worried about losing her job if she refused.

Mrs Peppiatt was described as being fanatical about keeping documents. So 14 years on she was able to produce various papers relating to the time, including a crucial appointments diary.

It was much smaller than the alleged fake diary which had appeared at the libel trial.

During more than a week in the witness box the former secretary was portrayed by the defence as untrustworthy.

They claimed she fiddled her expenses. It was also alleged that Mrs Peppiatt had gone on shopping trips to exclusive London stores where she bought jewellery and clothes for herself using her boss's money.

She said Lord Archer had asked her to buy them as gifts for his mistress.

The mistress

Andrina Colquhoun
Andrina Colquhoun: Denied the dinner date
Andrina Colquhoun appeared at the trial as a witness for the prosecution.

She admitted that her relationship with Lord Archer began in 1979.

When the story about Ted Francis's false alibi became public, Lord Archer claimed it was to hide the fact he had really been having dinner with his mistress.

The only problem with this version of events was that Ms Colquhoun told the Old Bailey jury that she was in Greece at the time and was not having dinner with Lord Archer.

The wife

Lady Archer
Lady Archer: Extraordinary loyalty
Lady Archer turned up at the Old Bailey periodically throughout the trial.

Even after some of the most embarrassing revelations about her husband's private life, she was often at his side.

She had played a key role in his victorious 1987 libel trial and must have been hoping that this time she could do the same.

In the past she has given some insight into the basis of her continuing loyalty towards her husband.

When asked "how important is fidelity to you?" in the 1987 trial she said: "It's moderately important. I mean I suppose it depends on what you mean by fidelity. I think loyalty is important. If you mean strict sexual fidelity it doesn¿t rank terribly high on my scale of importance of things in quite objective sense."

In the witness box Lady Archer was always confident and composed. She told the court she had known about the affair with Andrina Colquhoun. But said her husband "would hardly have been the first aspiring politician to have had the odd fling."

It was evidence about the diaries which was most critical. She dismissed much of what was said by Lord Archer's former secretary and claimed that the diaries produced at the 1987 libel trial were genuine, not fakes.

Lord Archer was offered the chance to give evidence, but decided to let others talk on his behalf.

The multi millionaire author describes himself as a great storyteller. But the jury was not able to hear his version of events before deciding between fact and fiction.



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