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The BBC's Robin Oakley
"Party officials say Archer has thrown himself onto the scrap heap"
 real 28k

Phil Hall, Editor, News of the World
"He said it will be very damaging"
 real 28k

Michael Ancram, Conservative Party Chairman
"I'm feeling very let down at the moment"
 real 28k

Sunday, 21 November, 1999, 13:44 GMT
Police consider charges against Archer
William Hague says Lord Archer 'let the party down'

Lord Archer could face criminal charges after admitting he asked a friend to lie for him before a sensational libel case 12 years ago.

The matter will now be considered to determine whether any further action is necessary
Scotland Yard
Scotland Yard has confirmed it is considering charges following the revelations, which caused Lord Archer to stand down as candidate for mayor of London.

It is thought he could be prosecuted for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Scotland Yard said a complaint had been received and would be taken forward.

A spokesman said a letter had been received from the Daily Star, which lost the libel action and was ordered to pay Lord Archer 500,000 damages.

The newspaper said as a matter of urgency it was considering its own course of action.

Blow to party

The news is a further blow for the opposition Conservative party as it begins the search for a new mayoral representative.

The millionaire novelist quit as the party's candidate for next May's election after admitting he had asked a friend to provide a false alibi for him before a libel trial.

His decision stunned the Tories, who were relishing Labour's difficulty in producing a shortlist of candidates - in particular, the vexed issue of whether it should include left-wing MP Ken Livingstone.

The Tory leader, William Hague, accused Lord Archer of letting the party down.

A special meeting of the party's 27-strong London mayoral executive on Sunday evening, will try to salvage the campaign for the high profile post.

Party chairman Michael Ancram, who called the meeting, said the revelations made it "quite impossible for Lord Archer to continue as the Conservative candidate". He added: "We now have to look forward."

Former minister Steven Norris could step into the breach
The executive faces two options: whether to re-run its contest for a candidate from scratch, or to allow former minister Steven Norris - heavily defeated by Lord Archer in the original ballot of London Conservative Party members - to run in his place.

In a statement, Lord Archer said he was unwilling to put his family through what he said was likely to be "six months of sustained attack" during the mayoral election campaign.

He admitted asking for the alibi to disguise the fact that he had dinner with a woman "whom I wanted to protect from publicity". The Mail on Sunday newspaper alleges that this woman was his then personal assistant, Andrina Colquhoun.

Dinner 'not relevant to trial'

A friend of Lord Archer's, Ted Francis, told the News of the World that the peer had asked him to say he had dined with him at a Chelsea restaurant on 9 September 1986.

Lord Archer was suing the Daily Star for libel after it accused him of sleeping with prostitute Monica Coghlan. He has always denied the allegations and was awarded 500,000 damages.

The Daily Star originally claimed the alleged assignation with Ms Coghlan was 9 September 1986, but changed the date to 8 September in court, meaning Mr Francis was never needed as a witness.

In his statement, Lord Archer said: "I am saddened that years later Ted Francis has decided to profit from selling his story to the News of the World. The dinner on the 9th was not relevant to the trial, and it did not form any part of the evidence.

"Of course I should not have asked Ted to cover for me, even though it was beyond question that I was in the restaurant that night; I was simply trying to protect the person I was with."

'More revelations to come'

Lord Archer may have to brace himself for more revelations to come over the next few week.

Publicist Max Clifford who brokered the deal between Mr Francis and the News of the World told BBC Radio 5 Live: "I know there is a lot more to come, in all areas.

Ted did not do this for the money
Publicist Max Clifford
"I mean, Ted Francis has known Jeffrey Archer very well for a long, long time and from the conversations I have had with him over the last few months there is some pretty sensational stuff which is still to emerge."

He insisted Lord Archer's former friend had not come clean just for the sake of the money he received from the News of the World.

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See also:
21 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Q&A: Archer's legal dilemma
21 Nov 99 |  UK
Love is: Marriage to Jeffrey
20 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Profile: Jeffrey Archer
21 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Hague under pressure over Archer
20 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Hague left fuming as Archer falls
20 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Archer statement in full
20 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Tory turmoil over Archer's replacement
20 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Labour: Tory sleaze returns
20 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
A mayor for the millennium

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