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Stephan Shakespeare, Spokesman for Lord Archer
"Jeffrey is prepared to face the music"
 real 28k

Thursday, 25 November, 1999, 18:03 GMT
Police examine Archer evidence
Lord Archer: Asked for a false alibi

Detectives investigating possible criminal charges against Lord Archer have visited the offices of The News of the World to gather evidence.

Police are understood to be pursuing a wide-ranging inquiry into the Tory peer and former mayoral candidate after the tabloid revealed he persuaded a friend to lie on his behalf 13 years ago ahead of a libel trial.

The Archer Scandal
The Daily Star asked for an investigation because although the evidence was never used they say had it been known it would have affected the case, which led to the newspaper paying 500,000 in damages.

Police are believed to have asked executives at The News of the World for access to the taped evidence and documents it used in preparing its story.

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said: "I can confirm that we have received a letter concerning a News of the World article which was published on November 21."

The Organised Crime Group would now consider if further action should be taken, she said.

Our position has not changed. We want our money back
The Daily Star
Lord Archer is refusing to pay back the 3m The Daily Star says it should get back following the revelations about his fake alibi.

The tabloid 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 deadline set by the Star for the return of its cash came and went at 1700 GMT on Thursday without event.

Andy Jonesco, managing director of the newspaper'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."

Andrina Colquhoun, whom the lie was apparently meant to protect
The newspaper is seeking the return of damages, plus 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.

Lord 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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