Jeffrey Archer

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Jeffrey Howard Archer, Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare (born 15 May 1940) is a British author and politician. He was a member of Parliament, Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party and since 1992 is a life peer. His political career ended after an indictment for perjury. He is married to Mary Archer, a prominent scientist in solar power.

Biography[change | change source]

Early life[change | change source]

Jeffrey Howard Archer was born in the City of London Maternity Hospital. When he was two weeks old he and his family moved to the seaside town of Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, where he spent most of his young life.

At Oxford he was successful in athletics, competing in sprinting and hurdling. He also made a name for himself in raising money for the then little-known charity Oxfam, famously claiming to have obtained the support of The Beatles in a charity fundraising drive (it was actually Pat Davidson of Oxfam). The band accepted the invitation to visit the Senior Common Room of his Brasenose College, where they were photographed with Archer and dons of the college, although they did not play there. It was during this period that he met his future wife, Mary. His parents were John and Mary Archer who gave birth to him in 1940. Jeffery Archer only had one sibling and that was his brother, Thomas Archer who is a renowned politician for the conservative party.

At the age of 29, he was elected as a Member of Parliament (MP) for a Lincolnshire constituency, holding the seat for the Conservative Party in a by-election on 4 December 1969.

In Parliament, Archer was on the left of the Conservative Party, rebelling against some of his party's policies. He urged free TV licences for the elderly and was against museum charges. Archer voted against restoring the death penalty saying it was barbaric and obscene.

Archer had to resign because of a scandal in October 1986 when the Sunday newspaper The News of the World led on the story "Tory boss Archer pays vice-girl". The article claimed that Archer had paid Monica Coghlan, a prostitute, £2000 through another person at Waterloo Station to go abroad. Unlike the Daily Star, the newspaper did not allege that Archer had actually slept with Coghlan.[1] Archer sued the Daily Star.

Perjury and downfall[change | change source]

Archer had been selected by the Conservative Party as their candidate for the London mayoral election of 2000. He was forced to withdraw from the race when it was revealed that he was facing a charge of perjury.

On 4 February, 2000 Archer was expelled from the Conservative Party for five years. On 26 September, 2000 he was charged with perjury and perverting the course of justice (i.e., obstruction of justice) during the 1987 libel trial.

A few months before the beginning of the perjury trial, Archer began performing in the star role in a courtroom play (which he also wrote) called The Accused. The play was staged at London's Theatre Royal Haymarket and concerns the court trial of an alleged murderer from beginning to end. The play used the innovation of assigning the role of jury in the trial to the audience, with theatre-goers voting on whether Archer's character was innocent or guilty at the end of each night's performance. Archer would attend his real trial during the day and be judged in his fictional trial at the theatre in the evening.

The real life trial began on 30 May, 2001. On 19 July, 2001 Lord Archer was found guilty of perjury. He was sentenced to a total of four years' imprisonment by Mr. Justice Potts. The most ironic aspect of his trial was that he had fabricated the alibi for the wrong date. Archer never spoke during the trial. Ted Francis was found not guilty of perverting the course of justice.

On 21 July, 2003 he was released on licence, after serving half of his sentence, from HMP Hollesley Bay, Suffolk.

Many of Lord Archer's friends remained loyal to him.

In addition, Archer lost an £8m libel case about false accusations in his book twist of tales, portraying Major General James Oluleye to be a thief. Oluleye was a man who left a legacy of honesty and integrity for the future generations of Nigerians, See his book "Architecturing a Destiny" and "Military Leadership in Nigeria".

Bibliography[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Caroline Davies "He lied his way to the top", Daily Telegraph. 20 July 2001 [website p8]. Retrieved on 20 April 2007.

Further reading[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]

Preceded by
Sir Cyril Osborne
Member of Parliament for Louth
19691974
Succeeded by
Michael Brotherton