Archer drama more than a match for best-sellers

LORD Archer's love-hate relationship with the press took another twist yesterday as his private life was again revealed to be more dramatic than his best-selling novels, writes Graham Moorby.

In the latest chapter of the private affairs of the former deputy chairman of the Tory Party, it has been revealed that he has a secret illegitimate sister.

According to the Daily Mirror, Wendy Burchell, 63, was given up for adoption after her birth in 1931 when Lord Archer's mother, Lola Haynes, was 18 and unmarried. Ms Burchell did not know who her brother was until she traced her natural mother in the mid-1980s.

The paper says Lord Archer's mother was devastated at having to give up the child and kept it a secret from her son because she feared he would think badly of her.

She agreed to the adoption because of pressure from her family, who disapproved of her boyfriend.

Wendy was brought up in Cardiff by her adoptive parents before emigrating to Canada in the 1960s. The report says she broke the news to Mrs Haynes, 81, in a letter to her home in Weston-super-Mare.

The Daily Mirror quotes a friend of the family as saying: 'Wendy loved her adoptive parents very, very much. She always vowed she would not trace her natural mother while they were still alive.'

Mr Archer's mother was reported to be thrilled that she had got in touch and thankful that she would not die never knowing what had happened to her daughter.

Lord Archer, who has often spoken of his childhood and the belief he had no brothers or sisters, was born in April 1940 and brought up in Weston-super-Mare. Wendy was born nine years earlier.

She travelled to Britain to visit Lola in Weston-super-Mare for the first time in 1988. Wendy lives with her husband Graham, a lay preacher, in Brantford, Ontario.