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Monday, 23 July, 2001, 02:48 GMT 03:48 UK
Archer faces 'missing aid' probe
Kurdish refugees
Charity concert aimed to help Kurdish refugees
Police are to be asked to investigate claims millions of pounds are missing from an aid fund for Kurdish refugees run by disgraced peer Lord Archer.

Former Conservative Party vice chairman Lady Nicholson has said she will lodge an official complaint with Scotland Yard and the Serious Fraud Squad.

Baroness Nicholson, who left the Tory party to join the Liberal Democrats in 1995, says "practically nothing" of the 57m Archer said he collected had reached the Kurdish people.

Archer was jailed for four years last week for perjury and perverting the course of justice during his successful 1987 libel action against the Daily Star over its story that he slept with a prostitute.


The Kurdish people feel let down

Baroness Nicholson
Baroness Nicholson said: "I am going to write to the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee and also to (the police).

"This is a matter that has been long-running for me and I am delighted that it is possible to get the spotlight on it, because I think the Kurds have been treated very badly."

A Scotland Yard spokesman said that if a complaint of alleged criminal activity was received it would "of course" be considered and appropriate action taken "in due course".

The allegation centres on money raised by the Simple Truth campaign set up by Lord Archer in 1991 to help Kurdish victims of Iraqi aggression during the Gulf War.

The centrepiece of the fundraising effort was a concert at London's Wembley Arena, which included stars such as Paul Simon and Sting. The concert drew a worldwide audience of 50m.

Kurds let down

Then-Prime Minister John Major pledged 10m for the Kurds from the Government.

Baroness Nicholson said: "The Public Accounts Committee will invite investigation on funding that went to Jeffrey Archer from the government of the day.

Baroness Nicholson will lodge official complaint
"The Kurdish people feel let down. Their leaders came to see me to say that they had received practically nothing from what they had been led to believe was a huge amount of money that would do an enormous amount of good.

"I think the Kurdish people were deprived twice over - once from the money I understand Jeffrey Archer had definitely promised and also because many people would have given more if the money had not ostensibly already been raised."

The Liberal Democrat MEP said she found it hard to believe that the figure of 57m given by Archer could have been raised in such a short time.

On Sunday, the leader of the Commons, Robin Cook, confirmed that the government is planning a change in the law which could lead to Lord Archer losing his peerage.

He said he wants to end the anomaly whereby convicted criminals are barred from the Commons, but not the Lords.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Adam Brimelaw
"Lord Archer is at the centre of renewed controversy over a fundraising campaign he ran in 1991"


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22 Jul 01 | UK Politics
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