Archer file 'should be sent to CPS for a second opinion': Labour call comes amid further share sale claims

Click to follow
The Independent Online
A CALL for the file on Lord Archer to be sent to the Crown Prosecution Service was made yesterday by Robin Cook, Labour's trade and industry spokesman, after further allegations about the sale of shares in Anglia Television.

Mr Cook urged Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, to pass the report by inspectors from the Department of Trade and Industry to the Crown Prosecution Service for a 'second opinion'.

'I am writing to Michael Heseltine to demand that he shows the report on Jeffrey Archer to the Crown Prosecution Service. The public now need a second opinion if they are to believe that the report comes up with a clean bill of health,' he said.

'One Tory politician should not sit in judgement on another Tory politician. Ministers should let go of the strings and give the legal authorities a free hand to decide if there is a case to answer.

'Jeffrey Archer appears more and more like a character out of one of his novels. However, that is no reason why ministers should guarantee him a happy ending.'

Mr Heseltine announced on 28 July that he had decided to take no further action after studying the report by two external inspectors into alleged insider trading.

Lord Archer, a former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party who was given a life peerage by John Major, told the DTI inspectors that he did not make a profit from the dealings, which took place around the time of a take-over bid for Anglia Television, when the share price soared by 180p. His wife, Mary, is a non- executive director of Anglia.

The author last week was reported to have personally placed the orders to buy the shares. A profit of pounds 80,000 was said to have been made on behalf of an Arab, who was yesterday named by the Sunday Times. Mr Cook's letter to Mr Heseltine raised questions about four specific allegations.

In his letter to Mr Heseltine, Mr Cook said: 'I appreciate the difficulty for you in responding to these press reports as it would not be normal procedure to publish such a report or to comment on its contents.

'I am therefore writing to request that you provide the report to the Crown Prosecution Service and seek their second opinion on whether there is a case to answer. This would provide the public with the assurance that the report had been assessed by an impartial legal authority.'

Lord Archer yesterday was not available for comment. In spite of Labour's pursuit of Lord Archer over the allegations, party leaders have confirmed that he could be given a campaigning role in the autumn.