Jeffrey Archer Lord Of The Lies: THE GRIPPING STORY OF A FALLEN TORY LEGEND; RIVETING, astonishing, unputdownable... Not even master yarn-spinner Lord Archer could have written a page-turner as compelling as the true story of his own amazing life.
The Truth,The Whole Truth And Nothing Like The Truth
"Jeffrey, I think, is now ready to accept that he has been a fantasist." - Gyles Brandreth, fellow Tory and friend of 30 years
HE is, quite simply, the biggest chancer ever to reach the pinnacle of British public life.
A compulsive liar who, like his father, habitually dragged the people who loved and trusted him into a web of deceit to quench his thirst for power and save his own skin.
Jeffrey Howard Archer has betrayed them all... his wife, mistresses, prostitutes, family, friends, two Prime Ministers, three party leaders, every juror he has stood before, every person who has ever voted for him, every employer who has interviewed him - indeed, everyone who has ever given him the benefit of the doubt.
But yesterday, in the Old Bailey's court No 8, a jury finally saw through his facade and struck a blow for those who live by the creed that the truth will always out.
There is little one can say about Archer with any certainty. But this morning we do know this. He's been a soldier, policeman, teacher, councillor, MP, best-selling novelist and peer - and now he's a convicted criminal whose reputation and political career lie in tatters.
And many will openly rejoice, because if ever a man encapsulated the contemptuous arrogance of the Tory sleaze years it was master manipulator Archer. He was indulged at the heart of the party, feted as a lovable rogue whose energy, charisma and fame were a huge asset to their campaigning machine.
Margaret Thatcher made him deputy chairman and adored him so much he was a constant guest at intimate birthday dinners. John Major saw him as a trusted aide and confidant, elevating him to the status of Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare. And less than two years ago William Hague backed him to the hilt as Tory candidate for London Mayor. All were lied to. All were let down. All today stand tainted by their dereliction of judgment about the maestro of fiction. The man who was addicted to deceit.
Like Father, Like Son
"My father died when I was young. He left us minus pounds 500, which in those days was a lot of money." Jeffrey Archer
IF there is a shred of sympathy we can throw Archer's way it is this. He never really stood a chance of being anything other than a serial liar, because duplicity ran in his blood.
His father William was a bigamist, a bankrupt and a conman who also appeared on fraud charges at The Old Bailey, only to escape justice by jumping bail and emigrating.
Before marrying Jeffrey's mother, Lola, he deserted two wives and three children and was wanted by police in three countries.
During the First World War, when other men were heading for death in the trenches, he headed to New York and claimed he was a British officer recovering from a serious war wound. But he was convicted in the USA and Canada of theft, and deported back to England.
In later life he would change his Great War persona to suit his mood. One day, he was a decorated sergeant in the Somerset Light Infantry, the next, a colonel. He claimed to have been a captain in the Royal Engineers and a British consul in Singapore.
In fact, he spent the best part of the Great War in North America, feeding rich and gullible women lies about being an Eton and Oxford-educated officer and gentleman.
One of his most despicable acts was to pose as a fund-raiser buying artificial limbs for French soldiers. In 1917 he was arrested and charged with taking money under false pretences. When he ended up in court, witnesses told how they donated hundreds of dollars for false arms that never materialised. He was given a three-year suspended sentence and quickly left the States for Canada. Soon he was in trouble again, receiving a year's hard labour for conning a woman out of $500.
For once, though, the Mounties had not got their man, for master escapologist Archer was deported back to England without doing time. Back home, he lied about his age and his occupation on his marriage certificate when he married Lola. When Jeffrey was born on April 15, 1940, his father stated falsely on his son's birth certificate that he was a journalist.
It was not the only piece of truth being hidden from the infant. Jeffrey grew up thinking he was an only child. But it became clear that he had three half-sisters on his father's side, a half-sister on his mother's side,an adopted sister and a brother. The elder brother, also called Jeffrey, was born to William and Lola in 1934. By the time the boy was three they decided they could no longer look after him and gave him up for adoption to a middle-class Bristol couple.
The boy became David Brown, and it was only when he traced his family tree in the 1970s that he realised he was related to Jeffrey. When they met for the first time at a party in 1982, David said to his famous brother:
"I'd like to have a chat with you because we're related." But Jeffrey ignored him and walked away. They met again in the mid-1990s, and were together last week as they nursed their dying mother. It was Lola who provided the last dramatic twist before her son was finally nailed. Halfway through the judge's summing-up, Archer was allowed to leave court. The next day, word arrived that Lola had died, aged 87.
Archer was clearly in pain. His love and admiration for his mother had never been in doubt. "God bless her, she is a struggler and a fighter," he said 18 months ago. "She nearly died the year before last. They actually told me: 'We are taking the respirator off. We're going to let her die tonight. There's no purpose in her living.' She woke up the next morning and had breakfast with my son William. And she's still there. She's not in great shape but she's alive."
At least she wasn't there to see his final disgrace.
Lies, Damn Lies And Dodgy Statistics
"Many times. I think that would be the fairest remark. " Mary Archer, when asked if she had ever seen her husband act
THE scale and impact of Jeffrey's incredible inventions would eventually outshine his father's. As biographer Michael Crick reveals in his book Stranger Than Fiction, he began the tall tales straight from the off, claiming he was born in Somerset, when he was born in City Road, Inner London.
He bragged about his father winning the Distinguished Conduct Medal in the First World War and his grandfather being made Lord Mayor of Bristol, when neither was remotely true. He claimed his father died when he was 11, when in truth he was 15.
And if the creation of a fantasy family wasn't enough to secure his ascent of the greasy pole, he gave it a little help by making up academic qualifications.
Archer claims he has three A-levels (history, English and geography), when he has none.
At Wellington School in Somerset he was anything but popular and was nicknamed The Mekon or Pune because of his weedy appearance. One classmate remembered: "He was very badly disliked.
There was a fat boy that used to sit on him." His love of sport was a direct result of being bullied. After an accident at Wellington he changed overnight, training to develop a stronger physique.
He claims to have gained an honours diploma in physical culture from Berkeley University, California, after two years' study, but they have no record or recollection of his time there.
He tells the world he went to Oxford University, when he actually spent a year at the Oxford Department of Education.
His CV also proudly boasts a year at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, doing an army PTI course, and says he was a member of the regimental basketball team. The reality was different.
Archer dreamt of becoming an officer and at 18 he signed up with the Duke of Wellington regiment for five years.
But Archer and army life didn't mix. Colleague John Golding recalls: "He would not have made a good officer.
He was always asking questions like: 'So you think the other soldiers like me?' The lads didn't warm to him."
Just before they were due to pass out, Archer disappeared from the course without telling anyone where he was going.
Years later, asked what he did on leaving school, he conveniently didn't mention his time in the Army.
From one failed and forgotten career, Archer moved to another with the Metropolitan Police. Strangely, when he addressed the Police Superintendents' Association in 1999 he made no reference to his days in the force.
Signing up a month after his 20th birthday, he lasted five months, making constable but leaving after a complaint about living conditions.
Again, Archer's know-it-all attitude won him few friends. Fellow trainee Bill Johnstone says he was "extremely arrogant" and disliked by colleagues and staff.
He says: "Jeffrey had great ideas for changing the system, the way training was done, the police in general.
"He was just a clever dick. You don't tell people with 30 years' service how to do their job."
His close friend Gyles Brandreth revealed the inner workings of Archer's fantasy-fuelled mind when he met him 30 years ago:
"He was gregarious, enthusiastic but quite unreal. He seemed to be playing a character in a drama of his own invention. I recall standing with him outside his Whitehall office and him giving me his various telephone numbers.
"'Call me any time, day or night. Any time,' he said. 'Day or night?' I repeated. He looked me straight in the eye: 'Day or night. Night or day. I never sleep.'"
Brandreth says Archer is obsessed with James Bond. As a child, he locked himself in his room and read the entire works of Ian Fleming in one week.
On his first date with wife Mary, he took her to see Dr No, and he makes sure his personal phone number contains the digits 007.
"Jeffrey sees himself as James Bond," says Brandreth.
"But to me he seemed more like one of my childhood favourites, Toad of Toad Hall - still a hero, still charismatic, but unreliable and absurd as well as engaging."
In 1966, when he married Mary Doreen Weedon, he described himself as a research graduate on the marriage certificate. She was.
He wasn't. When he won a seat on the Greater London Council in 1967, he claimed to be the youngest- ever GLC councillor, but he was two years older than Anthony Bradbury, elected at the same time. He tried it again in 1969, when he was elected MP for Louth at 29.
Archer described himself as "the youngest member of the House of Commons", overlooking the fact that Bernadette Devlin was 22 at the time. He has been accused of systematically fiddling his expenses as both a GLC councillor and a United Nations fund-raiser and in 1975 he was detained for leaving a Canadian department store without paying for two suits.
Controversy has often dogged his financial ventures. In 1974, he quit as a Tory MP after almost becoming bankrupt when he lost pounds 425,000 invested in a Canadian company, Aquablast. In January 1994, he bought shares in Anglia Television while his wife was a director, against the rules of the company.
Five days later, Anglia was subject to a takeover bid and its share price soared. There were accusations of insider dealing, but, after DTI inquiries, no charges were brought. Amazingly the Archer penchant for controversy has been passed down once again from father to son.
Jeffrey and Mary have two sons - William, 29, who works for a Hollywood producer, and James, 27.
James faces a lifetime ban from working in the City for allegedly trying to manipulate share prices while working for a bank. He denies any wrongdoing. Last year a company he helped set up went into voluntary liquidation with debts of pounds 250,000. His father explained:
"Jamie's life has been more like mine, but he is much brighter than I am because he has inherited his mother's very fine, sharp brain. He's actually more cynical than I am, so he won't have any problems."
Money, Money, Money:It's A Rich Man's World"It was rather like a game of Monopoly." Ted Francis on being taken around London and shown, or given, money by Archer
ARCHER may lack any trace of decency, honesty and integrity, but he possesses one thing in spades.
Money. He has used it to buy influence, sex, power, alibis and, ultimately, people.
He told Brandreth two years ago: "I don't know how much money I have. I don't care. I have enough."
Brandreth guessed it was pounds 50million or more. Archer had started writing novels in 1974 in a desperate attempt to make a fortune after the Aquablast disaster. He worked maniacally, scribbling all day, every day, for six weeks.
He teamed up with literary agent Debbie Owen, wife of then Labour MP David Owen, and she secured him pounds 8,000 for his first work. Since then, he has made a fortune from shifting 120million books - novels, short stories and plays - not to mention inspired forays into the stock market to back projects such as The Teletubbies. Acquaintances report constant boasts over lunch on the theme of:
"Do you know I have made pounds 5million so far this year?" When guests at parties thrown in his Thames- side penthouse asked for directions to the loo, he would answer: "Past the Picasso and left at the Matisse. Or is it the Renoir?"
An instinctive gambler, Archer has always known how to make money. He was the Tory star turn at constituency dinners because he had the magical ability to woo activists into writing cheques. He has drawn on this governments. A fanatical networker, he wooed influential people in all fields - and they were fascinated. After he was committed for trial, he told a journalist: "Norman Fowler, Brian Mawhinney, Michael Howard, Virginia Bottomley, Margaret Thatcher have all made a point of taking me to lunch. I haven't lost a friend." His desperation to make people think he was close to the reins of power could be comical. Journalist Michael White remembers: "In the mid-1990s, Archer invited me and two colleagues to lunch in his Blackpool hotel suite during the Conservatives' conference week. Mid-lunch, the phone rang, and rather than taking it in his bedroom, he asked us to leave because it was from the Prime Minister. "We waited outside, the butt of mockery from passing Tory MPs. 'He's talking to John Major,' we explained. 'Oh no, he wasn't,' said Nicholas Soames later. 'Major was on the platform.'
"When taxed about it, Archer had an answer as always. The Prime Minister had used a mobile phone, he retorted."undoubted talent to raise millions for charity. At least, he claims to have raised millions. In 1963, Oxfam pulled off a massive coup by persuading The Beatles to back their World Hunger campaign.
Archer posed for photo- graphs with the Fab Four, claiming he was the driving force behind their recruitment.
Oxfam offers a different version. Apparently a bright and tenacious press officer rang the band's manager and begged him to get them involved. When this was pointed out to Archer, he said he had letters to prove he was the man behind the Beatles coup. He has never produced them.
After the 1987 libel trial he pledged to give his pounds 500,000 pay-out to charity. To date, records show only pounds 130,000 has been given away. His greatest claim on the charity front is the tens of millions he says he raised for displaced Kurds after the Gulf War.
He organised a Wembley concert, signed up Tom Jones, Rod Stewart, Sting and Paul Simon and announced he had raised pounds 57million. But pounds 31.4million of it comprised donations to UN funds from the US, Australian, Japanese and several European
I Did Not Have Sexual Relations With That Woman
"You've hit the jackpot. He's the deputy chairman of the Tory party and a famous novelist." - businessman Aziz Kurtha, dropping Monica Coghlan off after sex and spotting Archer flashing his headlights at her
AND so to his biggest lie of all. The one that would later bring the house of cards crashing down.
As he strolled from court after his 1987 libel victory with his arm around his "fragrant" wife, pounds 500,000 better off, some who knew what had happened that night felt physically sick.
Shortly after midnight on Tuesday, September 9, 1986, after Archer had dined at Le Caprice restaurant in London with close friend Richard Cohen and his wife Caroline, he headed for Shepherd's Market, off Park Lane, a notorious prostitute haunt.
At 12.45am he picked up Monica Coghlan, who was working under the name Debbie, and went with her to room 6a in the Albion Hotel.
Coghlan told the libel trial: "I asked for my present and he gave me a pounds 50 note. I suggested that if he took his time, if I took my time and made it last longer it was another pounds 20. He agreed and gave me another pounds 20 note.
"We got undressed and he commented on how lovely I was. He was quite taken by my nipples. It was all over very quickly."
Under cross-examination, she became almost hysterical with rage, turning to Archer and yelling:
"Why are you doing this to me? Why are you doing it to your wife? He knows that it's him, he knows it."
But from the moment the scandal broke Archer had been using his power and money to protect his skin and destroy Coghlan's story. He persuaded his friend Michael Stacpoole to meet Coghlan at Victoria Station and hand her an envelope containing pounds 2,000 to "go abroad".
Coghlan refused the bribe. When photographs of the meeting appeared in a newspaper two days later Archer swiftly changed tack. He paid Stacpoole pounds 40,000 to go to France for the duration of his libel trial.
Stacpoole stayed there for eight months and could not be called to give evidence which would have undoubtedly sent Archer to prison. Years later, after Archer double- crossed Stacpoole, his former friend broke his silence.
He says: "What I had to say would have ruined him. He'd have been blown out of house and home.
I knew of two occasions he had been with prostitutes and I would have said so." In the event, Coghlan's life was ruined, made out to be a two-bit, money-grabbing liar, haunted by the now-discredited summing-up from Justice Caulfield: "Is he (Archer) in need of cold, unloving, rubber-insulated sex?" he asked the jury.
Coghlan moved north, and last April, the 49-year-old mother of a teenage boy was killed by a hijacked car. Told of her death, Archer was reported to have said:
When told she had died because she had been caught up in a criminal act, he added: "How ironic."
To All The Girls I've Loved Before
"There must be something about Jeffrey Archer that attracts women, but I can't for the life of me see what it is. " - novelist Joanna Trollope
ALL the affairs Archer had during his 35-year marriage to Mary descended into a similar, tacky pattern.
He duped his mistresses into thinking they had a future together, showering them with gifts and declarations of love, yet he never had any intention of leaving his wife. His most celebrated infidelity was with the blue-eyed 1960s debutante Andrina Colquhoun, now a married 48-year-old mother.
Andrina, a photographer, became his personal assistant in 1982, half- way through their five-year affair.
They would spend the week together in London and Archer would return to Mary in Cambridgeshire at the weekend.
She called him Moon, he called her Roonett. In 1984, he dumped her, saying he wanted to tidy up his private life.
What he meant was he wanted Margaret Thatcher to make him Tory deputy chairman. She did, after he assured her his affair was over. But he was lying, and Andrina continued to stay over at his flat during his time as deputy chairman. Michael Stacpoole says Andrina wanted to marry Archer.
He also remembers his reaction: "I will never divorce Mary. Marriage is for life."
When that affair ended in 1986 Archer began using prostitutes.
Dorrett Douglas, 37, claims she had sex with him in his flat. She was 21 at the time and he paid her pounds 50.
She tells how he changed into his dressing gown, walked towards her and let it fall open, saying: "Well, what do you think of this, then?"
Douglas says:"He seemed lonely and he was very grateful. He just wanted some company and some pleasure."
Stacpoole also says that in 1986 he helped Archer pick up a hooker in a London nightclub, and he recalls him frequenting a brothel.
In the late 1990s, he had a three-year affair with Howards Way actress Sally Farmiloe. Their fling involved wild sex in his Mini, in a public car park and in a back room of London's exclusive Cafe Royal hotel, where Archer was conducting an auction.
Farmiloe said they once discussed who they would like to invite into a three-in-a-bed sex session.
She suggested 'Allo, 'Allo actress Vicki Michelle, Archer went for former athlete, Tory Lord Sebastian Coe.
She called Archer "Wonderboy" for his sexual staying power, but he ditched her in a curt phone call, saying he was staying with Mary. Archer's philandering continued right up to his perjury trial. In February, he was photographed walking hand-in-hand on a South African beach with a new blonde lover, Nikki Kingdon, 51.
The thrice-married mother of two had met Archer in Harvey Nichols in London a month earlier, and he was overheard in a South African restaurant offering her the earth. She's still waiting for it.
Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, How Does Your Fragrance Grow?
"Any other woman would have left me by now. I accept that unquestionably." - Archer on his wife
THROUGHall of her humiliations, Mary's loyalty has been unswerving. Archer both adores and fears her - rather as a naughty boy does his mother - but he knows that he can always count on her.
He says: "I have put her through some hellishly tough times and she has been remarkable throughout them all. But the other side of the coin, as she herself says, is that she has had a remarkable life with me, with remarkable privileges."
Many women might dispute that last sentiment. So why did she turn up at this trial in a variety of eye- catching outfits to hear once more the sordid details of his sleazy life? Why did she tell the jury she enjoys a "full marriage"?
Everyone who knows her believes that for years they have gone their own way. The Old Vicarage in Grantchester is seen as "her place" and the Thamesside penthouse as his. Archer said recently:
"She is the brightest woman I've ever known. It's impossible to be bored by her. We do lead separate lives, but we always have something to talk about."
Mary seemed to be accepting the inevitable when she said after the libel case:
"Strict sexual fidelity doesn't rank that terribly high on my scale of the importance of things."
They met at Oxford, where she was a student of great promise at St Anne's College. Archer was smitten.
They married in 1966, when she was 22 and he was 26. He told her he wanted to win an Olympic silver medal.
He never ran in the Games, but in 1966 he ran for Great Britain against Sweden. He finished a disappointing third in the 200 metres but was part of the victorious 4x100 metres relay team.
Mary earned a PhD and taught at Oxford before landing a chemistry lectureship at Trinity College, Cambridge. At 56, she is one of the most brilliant academics in her field, having spent 18 years writing the definitive book on solar energy. The 1987 libel trial made her a very public figure.
Mr Justice Caulfield purred to the jury: "Has she elegance? Has she fragrance? Would she have, without the strain of this trial, radiance?"
Mary became famous. She churned out a CD of carols, sprawled across a grand piano in a low-cut dress for a New Year TV special and appeared on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs. She joined the board of Anglia Television and admitted to being embarrassed by the share affair. She has spoken about Archer's "gift for inaccurate precis" and dismissed his scandals as little bombshells.
After his arrest, she said: "We are all human, but Jeffrey manages to be more human than most."
She also said: "I think I felt, even when I married him, that life would be uncertain, stimulating, fast-moving. And it has been all of that." But which direction she will move in now nobody knows.
What's The Story, Mourning Tory?
"Dark nights of the soul are not my style." - Archer on life's disasters
WHAT now for Archer? The chances are he anticipated his fate months ago and has already invented a new story, with a new twist and a happy ending.
Last year, he wrote his third play, a courtroom drama called The Accused, and fulfilled a lifetime ambition by taking the lead role - landing in the dock each night as a man accused of poisoning his wife.
He declared then: "I would love to be in a film." Certainly, if history teaches us one thing about him, it's that you write him off at your peril. Archer said recently: "If something has gone wrong, I say don't worry about it, put it down to experience - you'll make it back. Just don't look behind you."
This is a man forced out of three major political posts, who has refused to lie down. A man who faced financial ruin, quit as an MP and bounced back by playing to his greatest strength: a spectacular ability to peddle fiction. A man famous around the world for his ability to use words.
A man whose own word can never be trusted again.
CON: Dad William in his prison attire; GIFT OF THE GARB: Archer dressed up as a bishop at a fund-raising event; FASTONE: Archer racing over the hurdles in Oxford; SEXUAL ATHLETE: HIS AFFAIRS; TORRID FLING:He romped in a Mini with actress Sally Farmiloe; BEACHED: He promised Nikki the earth; DUMPED: Andrina, left, called him Moon. Right: He ruined Monica's life; THEEARLYYEARS; DISLIKED: The unpopular 12-year-old; CADET: Archer, 18, failed in the Army; OFFBEAT: Jeffrey, 20, lasted five months; CHARITY: Beatles' "co-star" in 1963; RELIABLE: The perfect Tory wife, aged 20, at a charity swim; BRIGHT:Mary, 18, was a science student at Oxford; CATCH: Their wedding in 1966
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Jul 20, 2001|
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