Call for answers on Archer share deal

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LORD ARCHER was at the centre of a new political furore last night as the Opposition demanded an immediate statement on his business affairs from the President of the Board of Trade, Michael Heseltine, writes Paul Routledge.

Alastair Darling, Labour's City spokesman, said reports in the Sunday Times that a 'mystery' Kurdish friend of the Tory peer, Broosk Saib, 32, made a pounds 80,000 profit on a share deal personally placed by Lord Archer were 'very, very serious'.

'If Archer has an innocent explanation, let us have it,' he told the Independent on Sunday. 'Insider dealing is a very serious crime. Lord Archer is not an ordinary citizen. He is very close to the top of the Conservative Party. A full statement this week from Mr Heseltine is absolutely essential.'

The Sunday Times reported that Lord Archer placed an order for 50,000 shares in Anglia Television (of which his wife, Mary, is a non-executive director) for Mr Saib, a close associate who had worked in his private office, 'only days before' a takeover bid for the company was made public.

The shares were sold less than 24 hours after the pounds 292m bid was announced by the media group MAI, it was further alleged, and the cheque for the pounds 80,000 profit was delivered to the peer's London home.

Neither Lord Archer nor Mr Saib could be reached last night.