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EDITIONS
Monday, 22 July, 2002, 19:20 GMT 20:20 UK
Jailed Archer loses appeal bids
Lord and Lady Archer
Archer's wife Mary has stood by her husband
Jeffrey Archer has been refused permission to challenge his conviction for perjury and perverting the course of justice.

The disgraced peer and former Tory party deputy chairman also failed in his attempt to have his four-year sentence reduced.

A panel of judges sitting at the Court of Appeal turned down both applications - made one year into Archer's sentence.


The sentence was manifestly excessive

Mary Archer
He was convicted for lying during his successful 1987 libel trial against the Daily Star, and for forging his diary to beat claims that he slept with a prostitute.

Representing Archer, top QC Nicholas Purnell told the Court of Appeal that Archer was jailed at the Old Bailey on 19 July last year, following an "unbalanced" trial.

Mr Purnell also told the judges the term should have been between two years and 30 months.

Lord Justice Rose, sitting with Mr Justice Colman and Mr Justice Stanley Burnton said the sentence handed to Archer had not been not overly harsh because of the serious nature of his crime.

'Titillating' evidence

Lady Archer and her two sons, William and James, showed no emotion as the ruling was given.

But in a statement issued after the ruling, Mrs Archer said: "We would like to express our grave disappointment with all aspects of today's result.

"We hold to the view that the 2001 trial was unfairly conducted and that the sentence was manifestly excessive."

Archer had waived his right to be in court for the hearing.

Arguing against Archer's conviction, Mr Purnell said his case at the Old Bailey trial had suffered "irreparable" damage because it had been a joint trial.

The Tory peer's co-defendant and former friend, Ted Francis - who claimed Archer had asked him to provide a false alibi for the libel action - was cleared of perverting the course of justice.

James Archer
James Archer was in court for the appeal case
But Mr Purnell said his client had been the victim of "titillating and salacious" evidence, and that details emerging from the joint trial had been used "to vilify Lord Archer in every way possible".

Mr Purnell said: "The jury were distracted from the central issues because it is much more interesting to discuss Lord Archer's matrimonial situation and whether or not he has had girlfriends or mistresses than to discuss whether the photocopies the jury were looking at were those of a diary that existed in 1986."

Turning to Archer's sentence Mr Purnell said it was "wholly outside" the range of sentences in any reported case for such an offence committed during civil proceedings.

Citing the case of disgraced former MP, Jonathan Aitken, Mr Purnell said that there had never been a sentence for a perjury in a civil case which was in excess of 18 months.

The punishment was also "very rare" for such an offence committed during a criminal case, he added.

Libel trial

Archer, a multi-millionaire novelist and Cambridgeshire peer, is serving his sentence at North Sea Camp prison in Lincolnshire.

At the end of a six-week trial he was found guilty of two counts of perjury and two of perverting the course of justice, but cleared on a third charge of perverting justice.

The prosecution had alleged he had lied during the libel trial against the Daily Star, at the end of which Archer was awarded 500,000 in damages.

Archer had been accused by the tabloid of sleeping with prostitute Monica Coghlan, who had been "willing to engage in perverted sexual practices".

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Christine Stewart
"His downfall stems back to the 1980s"
The BBC's Richard Lister
"It has been a very bad day for Lord Archer"

Click here to go to Cambridgeshire
See also:

12 Jul 02 | England
12 Jul 02 | Politics
29 May 02 | Entertainment
15 Mar 02 | UK
09 Jan 02 | Politics
Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.


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