Police investigate bribe claim against Archer

Click to follow

Fresh allegations about Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare are to be passed to Scotland Yard following reports yesterday that he paid a friend £40,000 to leave the country during his libel trial 13 years ago.

Fresh allegations about Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare are to be passed to Scotland Yard following reports yesterday that he paid a friend £40,000 to leave the country during his libel trial 13 years ago.

The new claims about the millionaire novelist's conduct are also likely to be studied by the Conservative Party's ethics and integrity committee, which is due to begin taking evidence this week.

A spokesman for the former Tory candidate for mayor of London dismissed the stories and called for him to be given "some space" by the media.

In yet another day of intense speculation about Lord Archer's future, two newspapers claimed to have new evidence about his libel case against the Daily Star in 1987.

Michael Stacpoole, a former friend and confidant of the Tory peer, said that he would return to London from his home in Thailand to help Scotland Yard pursue its investigations.

Mr Stacpoole, who was sent by Lord Archer to pay £2,000 to a prostitute, Monica Coghlan, claimed that he had been paid £40,000 to prevent him giving evidence to the libel trial. The jury backed Lord Archer's case that he had never slept with Ms Coghlan and ordered the Daily Star to pay £500,000 in damages. Mr Stacpoole, 61, also claimed that Lord Archer rewarded a witness, Terence Baker, by allowing him to sell his novels' television rights, and that he had a five-year affair with his assistant, Andrina Colquhoun.

"My evidence under cross-examination would have blown his case apart and he knew it ... I think that over many, many instances now he has not only let his wife and his children down but he has let his friends down, he has let me down and it's time really to tell the truth," he said.

Mr Stacpoole's comments in the Mail on Sunday followed an attempt by an American business friend of Lord Archer's to prevent publication of the story. Mr Stacpoole had signed away for a token £1 all publication rights to anything he might say about his former friend. James Irwin, who had bought the rights, applied for an injunction to halt the story, but backed down when the newspaper said it would contest the claim.

The report follows the peer's admission last week that he persuaded another friend, Ted Francis, to lie about his whereabouts on the night after he is alleged to have met Ms Coghlan.

The Stacpoole allegations came as the Daily Star claimed that a key witness in the libel trial had confessed to a friend that he lied in court. Terence Baker, a theatrical agent who died in 1991, reportedly told the friend that he had lied when he said Lord Archer gave him a lift home after a dinner date. Lawyers for the newspaper said that they had a fully signed statement from Mr Baker's friend. "The friend's statement came to us last week following the revelations from Ted Francis," a spokesman said.

However, Lord Archer's spokesman, Stephan Shakespeare, said that the claims were unsubstiantiated allegations from "anonymous friends of dead witnesses". "I think the public have had quite enough of people lining up to kick this man's head in.

"He is obviously very sorry for letting down his family and his party when he asked a friend 13 years ago to cover for him over a dinner date ... Let's move on - the man is destroyed, he knows there's no future in politics for him. It is not a live issue," said Mr Shakespeare. "He's at home trying to recover with his family. I think the feeding frenzy could end now."

Ken Livingstone yesterday attacked Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, and "Treasury short-termism" for their refusal to allow London to borrow money to invest in the Tube network. "We are in this mess simply because the Treasury refuses to allow this money not to be counted against the public-sector borrowing requirement," he said.

Comments