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The BBC's Tim Franks
"The picture painted by friends is one of a man crushed by remorse"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 24 November, 1999, 14:02 GMT
Archer ready to face Tory inquiry
Lord Archer: Hoping to stay a Tory

The disgraced Tory politician Lord Archer is willing to talk to the party's ethics and integrity committee, according to his spokesman.

Speaking for the millionaire novelist, Stephan Shakespeare also poured doubt on rumours that Lord Archer was preparing to leave the Conservative Party.

Lord Archer was forced to drop out of the race to become London's mayor on Saturday after revelations that he asked a friend to lie for him under oath.

Mr Shakespeare said the Tory peer would welcome the opportunity to talk openly to the ethics committee, but whether he would do so depended on the committee not acting as a kangaroo court.

Privately, friends of Lord Archer say they are very concerned that members of Conservative Central Office have described the case against him as open and shut.

Mr Shakespeare added: "I have advised him that as long as it is not a kangaroo court that has already decided what it wants to do, he should appear before the ethics committee and explain himself properly."

Archer to keep libel cash

Mr Shakespeare's comments come as Lord Archer is reported to have decided not to return libel damages to the Daily Star.

The newspaper paid the disgraced Tory politician 500,000 in 1987, over an allegation involving prostitute Monica Coghlan.

But it has now given the peer until 1700 GMT on Thursday to reimburse 3m damages, including costs and interest to prevent its lawyers seeking to reopen the case, following Ted Francis's admission that Lord Archer asked him to lie for him in the run-up to the libel case.

Sources have told the BBC he has no plans to return the money.

Meanwhile on Tuesday pressure was growing from Lord Archer's local constituency party for him to step down before the ethics committee meets.

The head of the South Cambridgeshire Conservative Association, John Reynolds said: "I actually hope that Lord Archer may consider very carefully over the next few days his position, and it may make it easier for the Conservative Party, both nationally and locally, actually to resign."

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See also:
23 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Archer 'not leaving Tories'
23 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
What Ted did for Jeffrey
22 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Hague faces toughest test
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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