Defiant Archer hits back at 'sly' critics

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The Independent Online
A NEW "British disease" of building people up and then tearing them down was identified by Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare yesterday.

The beleaguered peer revealed in this week's Spectator that he had considered giving up public life, but his sons had persuaded him to carry on.

"What sort of example can it be to the young people of this country if figures such as I simply stand down each and every time we are vilified?" he asked.

Lord Archer attempted to draw a line under the allegations made against him, saying he had answered them "line by line" in the London Evening Standard on Tuesday. That response raised further questions and contradictions but Lord Archer wrote: "I will not deal with these issues again."

He said that English justice was built on the jury system and a presumption of innocence. "When I was accused over the Monica Coghlan affair, the jury found unanimously in my favour and awarded me a symbolic pounds 500,000 in damages.

"And yet anyone can still take a crack at me at any time they like just by saying under their breath, 'Don't forget the business of the prostitute'.

"And they can fill a couple more column inches by referring darkly to the 'unanswered questions' about Anglia shares. The Department of Trade and Industry set up an independent inquiry, headed by a prominent QC. They grilled me, my wife and my acquaintances for many hours, in great detail and under oath ... The DTI concluded that a jury of '12 good men and true' would be likely to find me innocent.

"How much longer can people attack me with a nod and a wink and a snigger? The answer, of course, is for ever. But let us be quite clear about this: what they are really attacking is not just me, but the whole idea of British justice and fair play."

He said it did not matter if he was attacked week after week. "After all, I am in politics. I may be running for mayor of London. I expect to be attacked. Whoever succeeds in becoming mayor will be scrutinised and criticised for everything they do. That's part of the job."

This was part of the new British disease, he said.

"We are getting too much joy out of sly and nasty comments. We delight in destruction. We build people up to tear them down ...

"Why would anyone want to set out to succeed in the public arena - whether in the arts, in sport, in politics or whatever - if they know in advance that the moment they get close to their ambition, people will try to destroy them?

"We are asking adventurers to go out on the high seas, while getting the torpedoes ready."

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