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Tim Franks reports for BBC News
"The Economist claims it's seen Lord Archer's business diary"
 real 28k

Friday, 26 November, 1999, 04:18 GMT
New claims in Archer case
Adam Raphael: 'Explanations needed'

A journalist has claimed that disgraced Conservative peer Lord Archer asked him to "forget" a key conversation about the prostitute at the centre of his libel case against the Daily Star.

We are in an atmosphere where you can say whatever you like about Jeffrey Archer and it will be believed
Lord Archer's spokesman
And he has raised new questions about where Lord Archer was on the key dates involved in the libel action.

In an article in The Economist magazine, Adam Raphael says he has seen Lord Archer's office diary for the evenings of 8 and 9 September 1986.

Mr Raphael, former political editor of The Observer newspaper, said that on 9 September Lord Archer had arranged to have dinner with an acquaintance, Terence Baker, who has since died.

The Archer Scandal
That was the night Lord Archer had at one point asked his friend Ted Francis to say that he was with him - and on which he now says he was dining with his then aide, Andrina Colquhoun.

But during the libel case, Lord Archer said he had met Mr Baker in the bar at the Caprice restaurant in St James's on the night of 8 September - the night on which the Daily Star claimed Lord Archer was with the prostitute Monica Coghlan.

Mr Raphael said it was "very strange" that Lord Archer "should have been with his key alibi witness on the 8th, a man whom he rarely saw, and then to have an arrangement in his diary to have dinner with him on the 9th".

He said: "I think that needs some explanation. Now, that diary was not disclosed to the court. If it had (been), there would surely have been quite a lot of questioning about this odd coincidence."

Mr Raphael also suggested that after the publication of the first stories about Monica Coghlan by the News of the World and the Daily Star, and before the 1987 libel case, Lord Archer asked him to change evidence he was to give to the libel trial.

Lord Archer: Resigned as Tory candidate for London mayor
Mr Raphael told BBC Two's Newsnight that when the News of the World published its story about Lord Archer and Monica Coghlan, he rang the then deputy chairman of the Tory party.

Lord Archer told him that he would have to resign from the post of deputy chairman, said Mr Raphael.

Mr Raphael said he then asked him about the prostitute and Lord Archer said he had met her once, casually, six months earlier.

He attributed the conversation to friends of the politician after Lord Archer insisted it was off the record.

Mr Raphael said: "About two weeks before the trial I was in a very difficult position. Journalists are not meant to disclose their sources.

"Once I was under subpoena by the (Daily) Star, I realised that I would be in contempt of the court if I didn't do so."

Allegations 'unsubstantiated'

Mr Raphael said he told Lord Archer that if he (Archer) gave a false version of the conversation, he (Raphael) would feel free to give his version.

Mr Raphael went on: "At that point he said 'Can't you forget this, can't you forget the evidence?' "

But Lord Archer's spokesman Stephan Shakespeare said the peer was being subjected to unsubstantiated allegations.

He said: "This is really very loose stuff. We are in an atmosphere where you can say whatever you like about Jeffrey Archer and it will be believed."

He said Mr Raphael had put forward his story to the jury 12 years earlier and it had not been believed.

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See also:
25 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Archer 'more human than most'
21 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Q&A: Archer's legal dilemma
20 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Profile: Jeffrey Archer
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