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1986: Archer quits over prostitute allegations

Jeffrey Archer has stepped down as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party.

His resignation comes as a result of reports in a Sunday newspaper alleging he tried to pay a prostitute to go abroad to avoid a scandal.

Mr Archer said in a statement he had "foolishly" allowed himself to fall into a trap to offer money to Monica Coghlan, a prostitute whom he said he had never met.

"For that lack of judgement, and that alone, I have tendered my resignation to the prime minister," he said.

Secret photographs

Miss Coghlan contacted Mr Archer to tell him one of her clients was going to release information about an alleged meeting between them.

When he realised the story was in the hands of the press, Mr Archer agreed to help pay for her to go abroad and avoid being questioned by journalists.

An aide acting on behalf of Mr Archer was secretly photographed by the News of the World handing over the money at Victoria Station in London.

Mr Archer is said to have consulted with Party Chairman Norman Tebbit before informing the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, who was said to be "extremely gracious and kind" over his decision.

The prime minister is due to meet with senior party members to discuss the matter on Monday.

Mr Archer had held the post of deputy chairman for just over a year.

Last night he said he was very sad to leave and it had been "very thrilling, as well as a privilege" to hold the position.

This is the second time Mr Archer's career has been tarnished. In 1974 he was forced to resign as an MP after a business deal with a Canadian company fell through, leaving him with massive debts.

In Context
In 1987 Jeffrey Archer successfully sued the Daily Star newspaper for libel after it reported he had slept with prostitute Monica Coghlan. He was awarded a record 500,000 damages.

Mr Archer was made a life peer in 1992 for his services to the Conservative Party.

In 1999 Ted Francis revealed that an alibi he provided during Mr Archer's case against the Daily Star had been false.

Although the alibi was not used in court it was well documented and the police began perjury investigations.

The trial that followed ended with Lord Archer being found guilty of perjury and perverting the course of justice. He was sentenced to four years in jail.

He was released in September 2003 after serving half of his sentence.


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