The Archer connection

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Indy Politics

One of the most fascinating questions about the Equatorial Guinea affair is what role, if any, has been played by Jeffrey Archer. The disgraced peer issued a strangely worded denial earlier this month when it emerged that a credit transfer in the name of "JH Archer" had been made to Simon Mann's firm three days before the date allegedly set for the coup attempt.

One of the most fascinating questions about the Equatorial Guinea affair is what role, if any, has been played by Jeffrey Archer. The disgraced peer issued a strangely worded denial earlier this month when it emerged that a credit transfer in the name of "JH Archer" had been made to Simon Mann's firm three days before the date allegedly set for the coup attempt.

The transfer, worth $134,980 (£75,360), was made to the off-shore bank account of Logo Limited at the Royal Bank of Scotland in St Peter Port, Guernsey, on 3 March. The deposit was one of a number of significant transfers in the months leading up to the arrests of the men allegedly plotting a coup in the oil-rich West African state.

Through his lawyers, Irwin Mitchell, Lord Archer has repeatedly stressed that he has never met or communicated with Mr Mann or with his firm, and that he had no "prior knowledge" of any coup. However, the statement appears to stop short of an outright denial that Lord Archer made the paymentin question.

The issue is further confused by the fact that Lord Archer's son James, who had to resign from a leading City merchant bank, shares his initials. The peer also has well-established links to one of the men named in sworn court statements as being a key player in the affair, Ely Calil. Mr Calil, a former adviser and acknowledged family friend, has been named by Mr Mann as a moving force behind the coup attempt, an allegation he has strongly denied. James Archer is a close friend of one of Calil's sons. James, like Mann an old Etonian, was banned from working in the City three years ago. He was found by regulators to be "not fit and proper" after an investigation into the activities of a flamboyant set of brokers known as the Flaming Ferraris.

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