Archer accused of failing to give libel win to charity

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The Independent Online

Jeffrey Archer was accused yesterday of donating only a fraction of a £500,000 libel win to charity, despite his claim that he had given it all away.

A document written by his wife, Mary Archer, showed that only £130,000 was paid to a number of different charities, a jury at the Old Bailey was told.

After he was forced to resign as the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London, Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare issued a statement referring to his successful defamation case in 1987 over claims he had sex with a prostitute, Monica Coghlan. "This accusation was false and in the libel action which followed I was fully vindicated and awarded £500,000, which I donated to charity," it said.

The jury was told yesterday that it had become accepted that the Tory peer had not kept any of the money in damages from the Daily Star newspaper for himself. But Roy Amlot QC, representing Lord Archer's co-defendant, Ted Francis, produced a piece of paper, in Lady Archer's writing, giving the figure of £130,000 and listing the charities it went to.

The questions over what happened to the libel winnings came when Mr Amlot was cross-examining Barry Carmel, Lord Archer's accountant, who advised on tax deductions for the charitable donations he had made.

Mr Amlot said: "Do you know, it has always been suggested that the full amount was given to charity?" Mr Carmel said as far as he was aware, a "very high amount" would have been paid to charity. But he could not recall any of the sums involved. He was then asked to examine all the documents and accounts in his firm's possession to ascertain exactly how much the millionaire author did give to charity. A colleague of the accountant is due to return to the court with the paperwork today.

Lady Archer made her fourth cameo appearance at her husband's trial. Their two sons, William and James, both sat through the day's evidence.

Lord Archer, 61, denies two charges of perjury, three charges of perverting the course of justice and one of using a false instrument, a desk diary. Mr Francis, 67, denies one charge of perverting the course of justice.

The trial continues.