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Thursday, 25 November, 1999, 00:47 GMT
Archer refuses to pay back Star
Archer: Asked for a false alibi

The Daily Star says Lord Archer has refused to repay the 500,000 libel damages he won from the newspaper.

Our position has not changed. We want our money back
The Daily Star
The tabloid demanded the money back following the Tory peer's admission that he persuaded a friend to fabricate an alibi for him before the trial.

The Daily Star said it had received a letter on Wednesday evening from the peer's solicitors, Mishcon de Reya, which said: "Our client denies that he is in any way liable to make any repayment to the Daily Star."

The newspaper said it would continue its fight for the money, following Lord Archer's admission that he persuaded a friend to fabricate an alibi for him before the trial.

The Archer Scandal
Andy Jonesco, managing director of the Daily Star's publishers, Express Newspapers, said: "This has not come as a shock to us. We had hoped that Lord Archer would take the honourable course and make amends, as so many people believe he should.

"Our position has not changed. We want our money back and our lawyers continue to work to that end."

Andrina Colquhoun, whom the lie was meant to protect
The newspaper has previously given the millionaire novelist until 1700GMT on Thursday to reimburse 3m damages, including costs and interest, to prevent its lawyers seeking to reopen the case.

Legal experts say the paper could have a chance of recovering the money.

The case was brought after the newspaper alleged that Lord Archer - then deputy chairman of the Conservative Party - had slept with prostitute Monica Coghlan on 9 September 1986.

Last week, it was disclosed that the peer had asked a friend to say he had dined with him at a Chelsea restaurant on that evening.

He said he had been at the restaurant, but with a close female friend and former aide, Andrina Colquhoun. He asked former friend Ted Francis to lie to protect her identity, he said.

Before the case came to court, the Daily Star changed the date to 8 September. Mr Francis' evidence was never needed, as Lord Archer proved that he could not have been with Ms Coghlan on that evening, and won 500,000.

Archer's political career is in ruins
Athough the facts do not seem to have changed, the newspaper may have a case for getting the money back under a concept known as "unjust enrichment".

Michael Zander, professor of law at the London School of Economics, has told BBC News Online that if the story had been known, the jury may have taken a very different view of Lord Archer's credibility and truthfulness.

"They [the newspaper] wouldn't have to prove he was with the prostitute," he said. "They would only have to establish that if the story had been known at the time, then the jury's decision might have been different."

Lord Archer was forced to drop out of the race to become London's mayor on Saturday after the former friend he asked for the alibi made the revelations.

Since then the peer has remained at his Cambridgeshire home amid speculation as to whether criminal charges will be brought against him.

His spokesman has denied reports that he is preparing to leave the Conservative Party ahead of a grilling from its ethics committee, which could lead to his expulsion.

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See also:
21 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Q&A: Archer's legal dilemma
24 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Archer ready to face Tory inquiry
23 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Archer affair takes new twist
20 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Profile: Jeffrey Archer
23 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
The Archer scandal

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