Tories ready to expel Archer by Christmas

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The Independent Online
DISGRACED peer Lord Archer is set to be expelled from the Conservative Party before Christmas. The party's independent Ethics and Integrity Committee is currently investigating the scandal surrounding the Tories' former London mayoral candidate.

Party chiefs believe they have presented a solid enough case, put together by Conservative Chairman Michael Ancram, to eject the millionaire novelist altogether.

Lord Archer fell foul of the Tory hierarchy and was forced to step down as the party's candidate for London mayor after it emerged that he had asked a friend, Ted Francis, to lie for him during his pounds 500,000 libel case against the Daily Star in 1987.

Tory leader William Hague ordered the party whip in the House of Lords to be removed from Lord Archer and made it clear in a speech last weekend that he would "not tolerate individuals whose behaviour casts a shadow over all of us". But, though the three-strong integrity committee can act independently, Mr Hague's senior lieutenants now believe they have given the committee sufficient evidence to expel the errant peer permanently.

Mr Ancram has already submitted the "prosecution case", which has been sent on to Lord Archer. He will then be expected to reply in writing and could be called by committee chairman Elizabeth Appleby QC to give evidence in person this week.

"On the available evidence, they will expel him," a senior Tory aide said last night. "Michael Ancram has put together the case against Lord Archer, the essence of which is that he misled him that he had no skeletons in his closet. We expect them to come to their decision before Christmas."

A member of Mr Hague's front-bench team added: "It would be unthinkable that Lord Archer should survive this latest betrayal. William feels extremely let down by him and he has made it clear that such behaviour will not go unpunished in the party."

Tory nominations for Lord Archer's successor as mayoral candidate close tomorrow. The list is expected to include Ivan Massow, millionaire businessman and director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Andrew Boff, former Hillingdon Council leader, and Baroness Miller, the party's London spokesman in the Lords. Party chiefs also want former transport minister Steven Norris, runner-up to Lord Archer in the last selection ballot, to stand.