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

Thursday, 25 November, 1999, 22:36 GMT
Archer 'more human than most'
Lord Archer with his wife, in the first pictures since the revelations

In her first public statement since her husband was forced out of the race to become London mayor, Lady Archer has admitted she is "cross" with the disgraced politician.

The Archer Scandal
But she said that the revelations that Lord Archer asked a friend to lie under oath for a 1987 libel trial with the Daily Star would not change her opinion of her husband, who she described as a good man.

She said: "I am cross with Jeffrey, but I have formed the judgment that he is a decent and generous spirited man over 35 years, and that will not change over one weekend or over any number of weekends."

She continued: "We are all human and Jeffrey manages to be more human than most. I believe his virtues and talents are also on a larger scale."

Police begin investigation

Meanwhile, 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 after the tabloid revealed on 21 November that he persuaded a friend, Ted Francis, to give him a false alibi ahead of the libel trial 13 years ago.

The Daily Star, which lost the case and was forced to pay Lord Archer 500,000 damages, asked for an investigation. It says that although Mr Francis was never called as a witness, had it been known that Lord Archer had asked him for a false alibi, it would have affected the case.

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.

We had hoped that Lord Archer would take the honourable course and make amends, as so many people believe he should
Andy Jonesco of Express Newspapers
Lord Archer is refusing to pay back the 3m the Daily Star says it should get back following the revelations about his false alibi.

The tabloid has received a letter 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."

The newspaper is seeking the return of the damages it paid Lord Archer, 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.

Andrina Colquhoun, whom the lie was apparently meant to protect
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.

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

Lord Archer said he had been at the restaurant, but with his then aide, Andrina Colquhoun. He asked former friend Mr Francis to lie to protect her from embarrassment, 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.

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".

Lord Archer's future as a member of the Tory party remains uncertain.

But his spokesman has denied reports that he is preparing to leave the Conservative Party ahead of a grilling from its ethics committee, which has the power to expel him if it judges he has brought the party into disrepute.

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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
20 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Profile: Jeffrey Archer
23 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Archer affair takes new twist
23 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
The Archer scandal

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