Ambition 'at root of Archer's dishonesty'

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The Independent Online

Jeffrey Archer was a manipulative risk-taker, driven to arrogant dishonesty by ambition, David Waters QC, for the prosecution, told the Old Bailey yesterday.

"The theme which runs through this case, we suggest, is that from the institution of the libel proceedings until Lord Archer received his half-million pounds damages, whatever obstacle was put in his way, whatever day he had to deal with, whatever request – whether it be for diaries or for affidavits – Lord Archer reacted instinctively with one act of dishonesty or another," the barrister said in his closing speech.

The Tory peer was the "author of his own misfortune". His deceit over his mistress, Andrina Colquhoun, had demonstrated that he was prepared to take risks to protect his political ambitions, the prosecution claimed. He went on to question Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare's refusal to give evidence. "If you are innocent and therefore feel the truth will stand up to cross-examination you would want to go to the witness box in order to declare that truth, particularly if you are a gifted communicator."

Lady Archer, dressed in a black dress and matching jacket, sat listening at the back of the court yesterday with their sons, William, 29, and James, 27.

The jury is due to retire next week to consider verdicts on six charges faced by Lord Archer, 61, in relation to his 1987 libel action against the Daily Star as well as a single charge against co-defendant Ted Francis. Lord Archer was awarded £500,000 libel damages, having denied the newspaper's claim that he had slept with Monica Coghlan, a prostitute. He is also accused of concocting a false alibi with Mr Francis for the night of 9 September 9 1986. Mr Francis claims he believed the alibi was intended to conceal a dinner date with Ms Colquhoun.

Mr Waters said yesterday: "The picture revealed to us in the last five weeks is a clear one and we say Lord Archer's guilt is established and you can be sure of it. We have heard, in relation to Lord Archer, powerful evidence from witnesses of note and sincerity as to Lord Archer's character."

He added: "He is also a gifted speaker and communicator, also you may think a very ambitious man – certainly in the 1980s. But you may think that ambition in this case may also be the root of expediency and dishonesty.

"The Andrina Colquhoun matter is not at the heart of this case, but if Lord Archer was less than honest with his political masters the motive was ambition.

"Lord Archer recruited Mr Francis to provide a false alibi in relation to the Monica Coghlan allegation ... perhaps this reveals an aspect of his character and the willingness to take risks if it is in his advantage. Are these good qualities pushed to one side and replaced by more base defects, dishonesty perhaps, which can be pursued with a touch of arrogance?"

Lord Archer, of Grant-chester, Cambridgeshire, denies three charges of perverting the course of justice, two of perjury and one of using a false instrument. Mr Francis, of Cranleigh, Surrey denies one charge of perverting the course of justice. The trial continues.