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Thursday, 19 July, 2001, 13:47 GMT 14:47 UK
Solitary cheer greets verdict
Lord Archer
Lord Archer did not break his seven week silence
The solitary cheer that greeted the conviction of Lord Archer finally broke the tension that had gripped Courtroom 8 of the Old Bailey for seven weeks.

A packed courtroom had waited in silence for the final humbling of the self-proclaimed great storyteller.

The loud shout of "yes" from the public gallery as Archer's first guilty verdict was delivered by the jury foreman provided a counterpoint to the celebrity defendant's impassiveness and his family's silence.

The multi-millionaire novelist showed no reaction as he stood in the dock to hear the verdict and he remained inscrutable as he was sentenced.

Lady Archer
Mary Archer remained composed as her husband was sent down
It had been a drama many times more gripping than Lord Archer's recent courtroom drama, The Accused.

His youngest son James, 27, was not in court for the verdict.

But Lady Archer, who was sat at the back of the court inches away from the packed press area, remained composed.

She stared downwards, her hands clasped on her knees and her legs crossed.

Eldest son William sat by his mother, his head also bowed.

He then perched on the edge of his chair as he listened to the verdicts.

Whispered conversation

James pushed his way to where his mother and brother were sitting in the packed court room.

The three put their heads together in a huddle for a whispered conversation.

Archer continued to stare ahead and as the verdicts were given, moved slightly back and forwards in the dock.

Earlier, in the anxious minutes leading up to the foreman's announcement, Archer, dressed in a grey suit, tie and lilac shirt, sat back in his seat.

To his left his co-defendant Ted Francis, who had earlier mingled with journalists waiting outside the court, leaned forward in anticipation.

Wife's reaction

Lady Archer, a 56-year-old Cambridge don, whispered briefly to her son at the back of the court.

She was wearing an immaculate navy blue jacket and dress adorned with a silver cross necklace and matching navy blue high-heeled shoes.

She initially sat with her feet firmly together and her head raised as she looked around the room.

Millionaire novelist Archer glanced in the direction of his wife and up to public gallery as he waited for the judge and jury to enter.

As Francis was cleared of his charge, Archer pursed his lips.

Courtroom play

Retired television producer Francis was instructed to sit back down and he remained in the dock with his head bowed.

Archer's trial had been dubbed "the best show in town" but unlike in his courtroom play, Archer remained silent during his own trial.

Archer sat throughout the seven weeks of the trial in the massive dock alongside his "Brutus" - co-defendant and former friend Ted Francis.

But the two men remained six feet apart and avoided making eye contact.

The drama centred mainly on the female players.

Archer's fate hung on the testimony of the key women in his life, former secretary Angela Peppiatt, ex-mistress Andy Colquhoun, and his devoted wife.

But even the testimony of the woman famously dubbed "fragrant" at the 1987 libel trial could not save him now.

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


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