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EDITIONS
Thursday, 12 July, 2001, 18:12 GMT 19:12 UK
Archer jury told to stay focused
Lady Archer, Lord Archer and son William leaving the Old Bailey
Family tragedy: Lord Archer with his wife and son
The judge in the trial of Lord Archer has told the jury that the death of the novelist's mother must not distract from the criminal case.

Mr Justice Potts told the Old Bailey jury that Lola Hayne, 87, who was living in a nursing home in Essex, died on Wednesday.

Lord Archer, who had been given permission to leave the trial on Wednesday, was back in court on Thursday.

1995 file photo of Lord Archer with his mother Lola
Lord Archer with his mother Lola in 1995
He was accompanied by his wife Lady Archer, dressed in black, and their sons William, 29, and James, 27. It is understood that Lord Archer's mother suffered a stroke.

Mr Justice Potts expressed his sympathies to Lord Archer, but told the jury they should not be distracted from the trial.

He is expected to let the jury retire at on Friday to consider verdicts on five charges against Lord Archer.

The 61-year-old denies three charges of perverting the course of justice and two of perjury.

Lord Archer has been cleared, on the direction of the judge, of one charge of perverting the course of justice and of using an A4 diary as a false instrument.

His co-defendant, retired television producer Ted Francis, 67, of Cranleigh, Surrey, denies one charge of perverting the course of justice.

Blank diary

The judge then continued his summing up of the case, which relates to Lord Archer's successful 1987 libel action against the Daily Star, which had claimed he had slept with prostitute Monica Coghlan.

Lord Archer has declined to give evidence during the trial.

Mr Justice Potts reminded the jury of the evidence given by Lord Archer's former secretary Angela Peppiatt.

She had told the court that Lord Archer had given her a list of names and told her to fill them into dates in a blank diary, to be given to his lawyers and passed onto the Daily Star's legal team.

Angela Peppiatt outside the Old Bailey during the prosecution case
Angela Peppiatt's evidence was "crucial"
Mr Justice Potts said: "This evidence really goes to the very heart of this case.

"She said that in or around April 1987 Jeffrey Archer produced this piece of paper and a blank diary and asked her to fill in the names that he had written down."

He said a handwriting expert had identified the writing on the list as identical to Lord Archer's.

However, he added that Mrs Peppiatt had admitted, under cross-examination, that a note she had written with another secretary about the diaries had contained "inaccuracies".

Mrs Peppiatt admitted to double charging some of her expenses and Archer's defence team had claimed she had faked the A4 diary to cover up her dishonesty, the judge said.

Affair

Lady Archer gave evidence that she remembered an A4 diary being used as the main working diary in 1986.

Under cross-examination she said she had only remembered the A4 diary last year when Mrs Peppiatt's smaller, A53 diary was produced to back up her claims it was the genuine office diary.

Speaking about Andrina Colquhoun's evidence that she had an affair with her former boss from 1979 to 1984, the judge warned the jury not to be distracted by Lord Archer's alleged affairs.

"Lord Archer has not been charged with having affairs, he is charged with these charges that you have on the indictment," he said.

The trial was adjourned until Friday morning.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Ben McCarthy
reports from the Old Bailey
See also:

06 Jul 01 | UK
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