Archer accused over Diana autograph

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Indy Politics

Baroness Nicholson, whose complaint started a fraud squad inquiry into Jeffrey Archer's Kurdish fundraising, is demanding a further police investigation – into allegations that Lord Archer sold a photocopy of Princess Diana's autograph as genuine.

The photocopied signature was sold in a catalogue at a charity auction, conducted by the novelist, for £19,000.

Eddie Bowcott, a Midlands businessman who bought the catalogue, was told the autograph supplied at the time was a photocopy, but that the original would be sent later. He claims he paid a further £4,500 for the "original", only to get another imitation signature in another catalogue. The catalogue was to be one of 250 signed by the princess for the sale of her dresses at a New York auction in 1997.

Lord Archer bought various versions to sell for charity. Mr Bowcott says he has a video of Lord Archer telling the audience the successful bidder would get "the actual one". Last week, Mr Bowcott passed the details to Baroness Nicholson. He went to the police about the matter last year.

Baroness Nicholson told the Independent on Sunday: "I would like to see this auction investigated. This is another extraordinary matter. I have faxed it [the allegation] to the police... If this story is true it is very odd indeed."

Mr Bowcott was unavailable for comment yesterday, but a business partner, Janis Hetherington, said: "We feel we have been cheated." Half the proceeds from the sale, it was claimed, went to the British Red Cross for its landmine campaign. The current police investigation into Lord Archer's fundraising also involves the British Red Cross.

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