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Tuesday, 23 November, 1999, 15:44 GMT
What Ted did for Jeffrey
Ted Francis: "I wasn't prepared to commit perjury"

TV producer Ted Francis has insisted he only agreed to lie for disgraced Tory politician Lord Archer because he thought it would save the millionaire novelist's marriage.

But his decision "to do a mate a favour" backfired on Lord Archer 13 years later when it forced him to step down as the Tory candidate for London mayor last Saturday with his political career in complete tatters.

Mr Francis says he had no inkling that he was being asked to lie over dates crucial to Lord Archer's 1987 libel case with The Daily Star.

The politician sued the tabloid over false claims that he had slept with prostitute Monica Coghlan.

Evidence left unused

Ultimately the evidence was never needed as The Daily Star changed the date it claimed the liaison had taken place.

Lord Archer then won 500,000 in damages from the newspaper, a substantial sum for damages at the time.

Putting his side of the story for the first time on Talk Radio on Tuesday, Mr Francis described the dinner at which Lord Archer first asked him: "Will you do me a favour?"

'Will you say I was with you?'

Setting the scene in his own words Mr Francis said: "I arrived at the restaurant and we were sitting down with small talk.

"He [Lord Archer] said, 'What were you doing on 9 September last year?'

Lord Archer and his wife Mary in happier times
Lord Archer is said to have continued saying: "I want you to do me a favour and say we were having a dinner. I was having dinner with somebody else on that night but it would embarrass me with Mary [Lady Archer].

"'So will you say it was with you and not with Andrina [Colquhoun]' as it turned out."

Mr Francis said: "I was a bit reluctant to do it at first.

"As a friend it didn't have any of the characteristics of a plot as such. It was, would you do me this favour as a mate?

"I said 'yes, but if it's going to end in divorce or anything, I'm not going to commit perjury for you'."

To follow up the conversation Mr Francis wrote a letter to Lord Archer's solicitor, still thinking the alibi was connected with a possible divorce and not with the Star libel trial.

Strained marriage

Mr Francis said: "The Monicagate thing wasn't on my mind. I didn't put the two together.

"I knew that he [Lord Archer] and Andrina were close and I connected it automatically with that. I guess there had been strains put on his marriage by his relationship with Andrina.

"The lawyer wrote back to me after about two months, saying could I be more specific and I wrote back and said, no I can't.

"I was fed up with it and I didn't feel too happy about telling a lie."

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See also:
23 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
'I had to stop Archer'
22 Nov 99 |  UK
Ted Francis - Archer whistleblower

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