'I can't remember the exact number. He certainly had quite a few women who came to his apartment'

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The Independent Online

Jeffrey Archer cheated on both his wife and his mistress with other women, the Old Bailey was told yesterday, in another day of racy evidence about his allegedly complicated private life.

Angela Peppiatt, his former secretary, was unsure how many lovers the Tory peer had. She told the court: "I cannot remember the exact number; he certainly had quite a few women who came to the apartment." Ms Peppiatt had bought presents on his behalf for "six or seven" women, but some of them were friends.

The jury was told that Lord Archer's main mistress, Andrina Colquhoun, who "cared very deeply for him", was unaware of her rivals for his extra-marital affections. But such was her position at his London penthouse flat, Alembic House, that she would remove and hide photographs of Mary Archer, forcing the staff to play "hunt the photos" whenever Lady Archer was expected to pay a visit.

Lord and Lady Archer, Ms Peppiatt, 56, told the jury, "led very separate lives ... and Andrina really ran Alembic House". But problems arose when Lady Archer travelled from the family home at Grantchester, Cambridgeshire, to stay with her husband.

Lord Archer, dressed in a dark blue suit, took copious notes as more allegations of his deceit unfolded. He shook his head and rolled his eyes when the figures of "six or seven" women were mentioned by Ms Peppiatt.

Lord Archer successfully sued the Daily Star newspaper in 1987, winning £500,000, over claims that he had sex with Monica Coghlan, a prostitute, for £70 at a hotel room in Victoria after picking her up in Mayfair. Ms Peppiatt told the jury yesterday that it was a "fraudulent" victory.

She also claimed that Lord Archer tried to use BBC's Newsnight and Barry Norman's Film 86 programme to help create a false alibi, with his friend Ted Francis, for his libel trial. She said: "Jeffrey was saying in his statement that he had come back to wait for Ted Francis's phone call and he was clicking through the television programmes.

"I specifically found out what was on Newsnight or what was on Barry Norman so that Jeffrey could talk about what was actually on these programmes. Jeffrey handed the statement to me which had been typed out. He would than make his alterations and it would then be typed up again."

Lord Archer, 61, denies four counts of perverting the course of justice, two of perjury and one of using a diary as a false instrument.

Mr Francis, a 67-year-old television producer from Surrey, denies perverting the course of justice by providing him with a false alibi.

The trial continues.