BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Friday, 20 July, 2001, 07:26 GMT 08:26 UK
Disgraced Archer begins jail term
Lady Archer
Lady Archer could now face a police inquiry
Disgraced millionaire peer Jeffrey Archer is starting the first day of a four-year prison sentence on Friday after being found guilty of perjury and perverting the course of justice.

Lord Archer was taken to the high-security Belmarsh prison in south east London on Thursday afternoon, where he is expected to stay until he is transferred to a low-security jail.

In another twist to the case, Lady Archer could now face a police inquiry over the evidence she gave to her husband's trial.


It's high time the Commons worked on a bill to deal with peers who have committed very serious crimes

Harold Brooks-Baker
Burke's Peerage
Questions about her testimony were raised by the trial judge, Mr Justice Potts, and detectives have said they will now "reflect" on whether she should be interviewed.

The policeman who led the investigation, Detective Superintendent Jeff Hunt, said: "I've heard what was said.

"We'll take our time to consider those comments and reflect on it in due course."

There have been calls for Lord Archer to be stripped of his lifetime peerage.

But this looks unlikely so far as there is no legal precedent, except in cases of treason.

Lord Archer's co-defendant Ted Francis, who triggered the novelist's downfall, was found not guilty of perverting the course of justice.

Mr Francis told ITV's Tonight With Trevor McDonald that he was relieved with the verdict and now wanted to get on with his life.

'Liar, cheat and chancer'

"I would not argue with the verdicts."

He said his relationship with Lord Archer has been "totally breached".

"We have no relationship at all," he said.

The Old Bailey jury found that Lord Archer had lied and cheated in his 1987 libel case against the Daily Star, which had printed a story claiming he had slept with a prostitute.

The newspaper, which had to pay 500,000 in damages at the time, has issued proceedings to get its money back plus interest - a total of 2.2m.

'No sympathy'

Its editor Peter Hill said: "No one should have any sympathy for Jeffrey Archer.

"He is a proven liar, a cheat and a chancer, a man so arrogant that he thought he was above the law. Now finally he has got what he deserved."

The News of the World newspaper will also be seeking about 300,000 from Lord Archer for an out-of-court settlement and costs paid over the prostitute claims.

Sentencing Lord Archer Mr Justice Potts said: "These charges represent as serious an offence of perjury as I have had experience of and have been able to find in the books."

He said it gave him "no pleasure at all" to sentence him and branded the whole case "extremely distasteful".

Ted Francis
Ted Francis was found not guilty
Lord Archer, who was ordered to pay 175,000 costs within 12 months, was told by the judge he would have to serve at least half of his sentence.

He was cleared by the jury of one count of perverting the course of justice.

Lord Archer's solicitor, Tony Morton-Hooper, has said his client planned to appeal.

There have been calls for Lord Archer to be stripped of his peerage but a House of Lords spokesman said he would not lose it despite his conviction.

He told BBC News Online after the verdict: "There is no precedent for a life peerage being removed. I think treason would be the only exception."

'Undemocratic place'

Labour MP Andrew Mackinlay tabled a Commons motion on Thursday calling for legislation to disqualify peers imprisoned for criminal offences from sitting in the Lords, in the way that a MP would be excluded from the Commons.

"Not only is it an undemocratic place, but you could commit murder and when you get out of prison you could still go back into the House of Lords."

Harold Brooks-Baker, publisher of Burke's Peerage, called for a system to remove disgraced peers.

"It's high time the Commons worked on a bill to deal with peers who have committed very serious crimes - otherwise it makes a nonsense of the peerage."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Caroline Thomsett
"He is destined to pay a high price for his deceit"
Peter Hill, Daily Star editor
"The fact of the matter is we told the truth about Jeffrey Archer"
Former Conservative MP David Mellor
"A lot of us came to regard Jeffrey Archer as an unstable character"
Discussing the issues:
Sir Nicholas Lyall, former Conservative MP and Andrew McKinley, Labour backbencher


Background

Profiles

Panorama coverage

AUDIO/VIDEO

TALKING POINT
See also:

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


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes