View from City Road: 'Dirty tricks' explained away

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The Independent Online
Political dirty tricks or something else? Something else, the Department of Trade and Industry was insisting yesterday as suspicion mounted that someone somewhere had deliberately made public Jeffrey Archer's link with the Anglia TV insider dealing inquiry. Certainly it looks suspect. Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, is known to dislike Lord Archer, and with a cabinet reshuffle only days way, he has an obvious motive.

That's not actually what happened, the DTI insists. Faced with Anglia TV's statement that it was aware of the investigation, the DTI had no option but to confirm, officials explained yesterday. If it did not, Mr Heseltine would have been accused of trying to protect his friends in the party.

Believe it if you will. Certainly, if the motive was political skullduggery, it has been highly effective. Guilty or innocent, Lord Archer's chances of getting the party's chairmanship are now zero. Most insider dealing inquiries come to nothing and even those that do get to court are usually thrown out. All seven people tried for insider dealing last year were acquitted. Mr Heseltine might think that finishing off Lord Archer's political ambitions is a rather more effective use of taxpayers' money.

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