'I disapproved of the Idea of Jeffrey Archer becoming Mayor of London' reveals Ted Francis

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Indy Politics

Whistleblower Ted Francis told today of the fateful meal when disgraced Tory Peer Lord Archer asked him: "Will you do me a favour."

Whistleblower Ted Francis told today of the fateful meal when disgraced Tory Peer Lord Archer asked him: "Will you do me a favour."

Mr Francis, speaking on Talk Radio, said he assumed he was being asked to protect Lord Archer from a possible divorce when the peer requested him to lie and say they had been having dinner together on a night in September 1986, the previous year.

Mr Francis, whose revelations of the plot to lie in the run-up to the sensational Monica Coghlan 1987 libel trial, forced Lord Archer to quit the race for Mayor of London said: "I arrived at the restaurant and we were sitting down with small talk.

"He (Lord Archer) said, what were you doing on September 9 last year? I said, 'God, I don't know', bearing in mind this was four months later. I said 'I don't know, I could check in my diary' and he said could we have been having dinner?

"'I want you to do me a favour and say we were having a dinner. I was having dinner with somebody else on that night but it would embarrass me with Mary' (Lady Archer).

"'So will you say it was with you and not with Andrina (Colquhoun)' as it turned out.

"I was a bit reluctant to do it at first.

"As a friend it didn't have any of the characteristics of a plot as such. It was, would you do me this favour as a mate.

"I said 'yes, but if its going to end in divorce or anything I'm not going to commit perjury for you'.

Mr Francis told interviewer Derek Hatton that the pending libel case, when Lord Archer won damages from The Daily Star after it falsely accused him of having sex with prostitute Monica Coghlan on a different night in September 1986, did not cross his thoughts.

Mr Francis said: "The Monicagate thing wasn't on my mind. I didn't put the two together.

"I knew that he (Lord Archer) and Andrina were close and I connected it automatically with that. I guess there had been strains put on his marriage by his relationship with Andrina."

Asked again if he was sure he made no connection with the libel case Mr Francis replied: "No, none whatsoever. I didn't.

"He asked me to write to the lawyer and I thought this was to protect him in a divorce situation.

"The lawyer wrote back to me after about two months, saying could I be more specific and I wrote back and said no I can't.

"I was fed up with it and I didn't feel too happy about telling a lie.

"Then I heard nothing. That was in March (1987)."

Asked for his view on the libel case Mr Francis said: "I thought in one way it was appalling to be dragged to the level it did because obviously he had a very strong alibi for the night in question."

But Mr Francis did say he was amazed, like everybody else at the size of the damages award.

He went on: "I have no reason to doubt he was where he was on the night it was alleged he was with Monica. I have never conjectured on that. I have never thought about it."

He went on: "I did him a favour as a friend because I thought he was going to get in trouble with his wife because he was with a girlfriend."

Mr Francis insisted the only reason he brought the lie to public attention now was because: "I disapproved of the idea of Jeffrey Archer becoming Mayor of London. that basically is the motivation."

Mr Francis described how in the early 1970s he had first approached Lord Archer, at the suggestion of a mutual friend, to seek financing for a film project he was developing.

Freelance producer Mr Francis said Lord Archer could not help him on that occasion but the two kept in touch. Lord Archer did later invest £12,000 in another project Mr Francis was trying to get off the ground.

But Mr Francis again recalled that in 1990 at one of his party's Lord Archer interrupted Mr Francis and another guest in conversation to say: "I lent him £20,000 and never got it back."