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John Pienaar reports for BBC News
"Lord Archer's fallen a long way"
 real 28k

Shadow Home Secretary Ann Widdecombe
"As soon as we had the allegations we acted immediately"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 23 November, 1999, 12:29 GMT
'I had to stop Archer'
Ted Francis: Justification but no new revelations

The man who sold secrets about Lord Archer has claimed his motive was to stop the Tory becoming Britain's "second most powerful politician".

Ted Francis approached publicist Max Clifford with the words: "If that man becomes mayor, God help us all."

Speaking for the first time since the revelation he lied for the millionaire novelist ahead of a 1987 libel trial, Mr Francis said he only decided to make the incident public after the Conservatives selected Lord Archer as the party's mayoral candidate.

Challenged on Talk Radio by a caller who branded him "scum" for selling a story about a former friend, he insisted he had higher motivations than money

Lord Archer: Remains hidden in his home
"Would you rather know the truth about Jeffrey Archer or have him as mayor and find out to our cost?" he asked.

"This is not about revenge," he said. "Because Archer became more and more of a possible candidate ... because Dobson and Livingstone were clashing, you could see him getting in the back door."

He insisted he had received no payment for his falsehood 13 years ago and admitted Lord Archer had probably approached him to lie because he viewed him as a "stooge".

Mr Francis said he had no further salacious incidents to disclose, although Mr Clifford had told him other people had recently come forward with further revelations. He said he was not a "vengeful person" and felt compassion towards Lord Archer.

"He's down and I don't want to kick him," he said. "I wish that other people would lay off him. My objective was served and I think it was the objective of hundreds of other people."

Lord Archer has already been stripped of the Tory whip in the House of Lords, faces demands for the return of 3m and is the subject of a police investigation.

The peer admitted asking Mr Francis to lie by saying he had met him for dinner on a night when a tabloid had accused him of having sex with a prostitute.

The evidence was never needed as The Daily Star changed the date it claimed the liaison had taken place and the Tory politician won 500,000 in damages from the newspaper.

Andrina Colquhoun: May not have been dinner companion
Mr Francis said on Tuesday that he initially thought he had been asked to lie to cover up an affair.

Since the scandal emerged, Lord Archer's former private secretary Andrina Colquhoun has been named as his real dining companion - although that too has been disputed.

When he wrote to Lord Archer's lawyer confirming the false alibi he had thought the letter might be used in a divorce case, but never a libel hearing, Mr Francis said.

"I did him a favour as a friend because I thought he was going to get into trouble with his wife because he was with a girl.

"I knew that he and Andrina were close and I guessed there had been strains put on his marriage by that."

Lord Archer's spokesman, Stephan Shakespeare, said after the interview that the novelist's wife, Mary - famously described as "fragrant" by the libel judge - would be remaining with her husband.

End of party for Archer?


This is the end of politics for Jeffrey Archer. I will not tolerate behaviour like this is in my party.
William Hague, Tory leader
Following harsh comments from Tory leader William Hague, Lord Archer is now expected to be expelled from the Conservative Party.

The party's ethics and integrity committee will examine two specific aspects arising from the revelations.

Shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe on Tuesday defended the failure to refer questions hanging over Lord Archer to the committee previously.

Libel cases and government inquiries had settled the allegations against Lord Archer before the new material emerged, she said.

The decision to select him as the party's mayoral candidate despite suspicions of impropriety still hanging over him went to party members as no new evidence existed.

Star sets deadline for 3m

Lord Archer remained inside his Grantchester home on Tuesday morning, where he has been since the scandal erupted, spending his time writing letters of apology, according to a spokesman.

Jonathan Aitken: Jailed for perjury
But no words are likely to pacify The Daily Star. The tabloid has set a three-day deadline for Lord Archer voluntarily to give the money back.

The Daily Star puts the total with interest at 3m. It is threatening to bring legal action if it does not receive the cash.

Scotland Yard has also announced it is launching a criminal investigation following a complaint from the newspaper.

The investigation into allegations of conspiracy to perjure is being led by Detective Superintendent Geoff Hunt, who helped jail former Conservative minister Jonathan Aitken for perjury earlier this year.

The Metropolitan Police said Mr Hunt's involvement was "purely coincidental".

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See also:
22 Nov 99 |  UK
Bullseye for Clifford's arrow
22 Nov 99 |  UK
Ted Francis - Archer whistleblower
23 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
What Ted did for Jeffrey
22 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Hague faces toughest test
22 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Paper to challenge Archer ruling
22 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
First test for ethics panel
22 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Who now for London Tories?
21 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Q&A: Archer's legal dilemma
20 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Profile: Jeffrey Archer
21 Nov 99 |  UK
Love is: Marriage to Jeffrey

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