LEST WE forget. Until Saturday it had not been a bad week as a postscript to the sleaze of the last Tory government. Corrupt right wing loony Neil Hamilton was trading abuse with Mohamed Al Fayed in court. The disgraced former Tory MP for Tatton was desperately trying to salvage a few bob and the remaining tatters of his reputation. Come Saturday, however, and the postscript was truly written. Jeffrey Archer had been found out. Or rather, Jeffrey Archer had been found out again.
Amazingly, whilst the Tories were crowing about the mess Labour were getting into over their candidate for London mayor, they themselves were sitting on a time bomb that was bound to go off sooner or later. The time bomb was, of course, the fact that they had chosen Archer as candidate. Even by the sleaze ridden standards of the Tories, Archer was in of a league of his own. A phoney, a bankrupt, a liar, an insider dealer, and a man with a Houdini type ability to slide out of trouble when the world and its wife (if not Jeffrey’s) could see he was guilty.
Yes, this fifth rate novelist has a fifth rate past. He gained admission to Oxford University by lying about his A levels and inventing a degree from the University of California. He was accused of fiddling expenses whilst working for the United Nations Association. He once walked out of a store in Canada with two suits he hadn’t paid for. He initially denied the incident took place and later claimed it was all a misunderstanding.
He was forced to quit as an MP in 1974 after a business venture went belly up. Then there was the famous libel case concerning a prostitute, Monica Coghlan. Coghlan claimed Archer had paid her for sex. Archer denied it. A newspaper caught Archer arranging to pay £2,000 to Coghlan, which appeared to be hush money. In court, Archer explained he was giving the prostitute the money because, even though he’d never met her, he felt sorry for her. This unlikely defence was going to be backed by the perjured evidence of a friend, who has now come clean.
As it happens Archer didn’t need the alibi and won the case, thanks in no small part to his wife. Her evidence certainly impressed the judge. His summing up stressed her elegance, her fragrance, her radiance and her physical features. The old boy clearly had a thing for this highly educated, upper class woman, contrasting her to the unfortunate Irish working class prostitute Coghlan. He went on to ask, ‘Is he [Archer] in need of cold, unloving, rubber-insulated sex in a seedy hotel?’ Amazingly Archer walked away with £500,000 and a reignited political career. The original £2,000 was clearly a good investment!
Archer’s wealth has continued to grow, but not without questions. He bought 50,000 shares in Anglia TV where his wife was a director and made £77,000 profit within days. The DTI was recently asked to look into the matter again. Yet despite this Archer and the fragrant one continue to enjoy a life of great opulence. His penthouse parties are famous. If you ask for directions to the toilet you are told it is ‘past the Picasso and left at the Matisse’. That this man can possess great wealth, great works of art and several ‘brilliant careers’ says all you need to know about this system.