Inquiry 'rests on Lady Archer's word'

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THE INQUIRY by Anglia Television into whether Lady Archer took sufficient steps to prevent her husband, Lord Archer, dealing in price-sensitive shares of the company where she was a director, came down to 'accepting her word she did not give out any information'.

According to an insider at MAI, the media group which took over Anglia in January, the core of Anglia's investigation into Lady Archer was 'the acceptance that her word was her bond'.

On Wednesday, the London Stock Exchange said it was satisfied 'on the basis of information to date' that there was 'no breach of its listings rules by Anglia or its directors'. Anglia immediately welcomed the Stock Exchange's statement. It said the conclusions 'confirm the findings of investigations carried out by Anglia and its advisers'.

A City source interviewed by the DTI in a similar investigation, said: 'Fingerprints or DNA or other forensic evidence is just not available. Ultimately, those carrying out the DTI or the Stock Exchange inquiries would have to decide on the basis of an individual's word that information was or was not passed on.'

A source at the Stock Exchange told the Independent this week that the investigation would review 'additional information' and would go over the ground that had first brought it to demand an explanation from the stockbrokers, Charles Stanley, over pounds 80,000 profit made from 50,000 Anglia shares. Charles Stanley had handled the deal ordered by Lord Archer days before a take-over announcement by MAI resulted in Anglia's share price soaring.

Yesterday, the Stock Exchange officially said it was 'not aware of any further pertinent information' and planned to make no further statement in connection with the events.

A spokeswoman for the Stock Exchange said that its main concern was to ensure that Anglia met its obligations. The Stock Exchange's 'contract' was with Anglia, added the spokeswoman, and inquiries had centred on whether 'Anglia had proper procedures in place', and whether directors had followed those procedures which prevented breaches of the rules.

Neither Lady Archer nor Lord Archer were available to comment yesterday.