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Novelist Archer goes on trial

Archer
Archer denies the charges  


LONDON, England -- Former British Conservative Party Deputy Chairman Jeffrey Archer has appeared in court on perjury charges.

The best-selling novelist has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him, including perverting the course of justice, perjury and using a false document.

The charges centre around a 1987 libel suit the 61-year-old brought against the British tabloid newspaper the Daily Star, in which he won more than $700,000 in damages over allegations, which he denied, of having had sex with a prostitute, Monica Coghlan.

Prosecuting David Waters told the Old Bailey Court on Wednesday that the case against Archer focused on two allegations.

The first was that he had hatched a false alibi to counter the Daily Star allegations with television producer and friend Ted Francis, 67.

Waters said: "The second....has at its core a forged or false diary used by Lord Archer in libel proceedings which were heard in 1987."

He added that Archer had made entries in a diary during the summer of 1987 "purely to bolster his case."

Archer was pressed during the libel case to produce diaries to prove his whereabouts on the date of the alleged sexual encounter.

He produced two, but is accused of having given his secretary a blank 1986 diary in which he instructed her to write entries and which was to be used as his main office diary. Archer denies the accusation.

The prosecution allege that in January 1987 Lord Archer telephoned Francis and invited him to dinner at a Chelsea restaurant to set up a false alibi.

Francis is on trial with Archer and has denied all charges of perverting the course of justice.

Archer was made a Tory peer in the House of Lords, the upper chamber of parliament, in 1992 after he served as deputy party chairman in the 1980s under the then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Archer was on stage earlier this year acting in his own play "The Accused."

The trial is expected to last four weeks.







RELATED STORIES:
• Prostitute in Archer case dies
April 27, 2001
• Novelist Archer charged with perjury
September 26, 2000

RELATED SITES:
• The House of Lords
• Jeffrey Archer

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