Jeffrey Howard Archer, Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare (born 15 April 1940) is a best-selling
English author and former politician whose political career ended with his conviction and subsequent imprisonment (2001–03) for perjury and perverting the course of justice.
He has since repaid his debt to society and in our opinion was penalized
more than most, because any prison sentence, no matter how big or small
could not compare to the scandal that rocked his life.
Alongside his literary work, Archer was a Member of Parliament (1969–74), and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party (1985–86). He was made a life peer in 1992.
Early life - Background
Jeffrey Howard Archer was born in the City of
London Maternity Hospital. He was two weeks old when his family moved to the seaside town of Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, where he spent most of his early life. He has an older brother born out of wedlock, also originally called Jeffrey, who was put up for adoption at an early age. The brother assumed the name David Brown and only discovered his relationship to Archer in 1980, even though Archer already apparently knew this, according to the journalist Michael Crick. His father, William (died
1956), was sixty-four when Archer was born. In 1951, he won a scholarship to Wellington School, in Somerset (not to be confused with the public
school Wellington College, which is possible from the ambiguous biography in Archer's earlier books). At this time his mother, Lola, contributed a column "Over the teacups" to the local press in Weston-super-Mare and wrote about the adventures of her son 'Tuppence'; this caused Archer to be the victim of bullying while at Wellington
After Archer left school passing O-levels in English Literature, Art, and History, he worked in a number of jobs, including training with the
army and for the police. This lasted only for a few months, but he fared better as a Physical Education teacher; first at Vicar's Hill, a Prep School in Hampshire where he taught fencing amongst other sports, later at the more prestigious independent school Dover College in Kent. As a teacher he was popular with pupils and was reported by some to have had good motivational skills, helping to
instill personal confidence in the less confident.
Archer studied for three years, gaining an academic qualification in teaching awarded by the Oxford
University Department for Continuing Education. The course was based at Brasenose College, Oxford, although Archer was never registered as an undergraduate student of the College. There have been claims that Archer provided false evidence of his academic qualifications, for instance the apparent citing of an American institution which was actually a bodybuilding club, in gaining admission to the
course. It is also alleged that he provided false statements about three non-existent A level passes and a US
degree. His website includes references to his Oxford 'Principal', yet omits that he was not a full undergraduate at
While in Oxford he was successful in athletics, competing in sprinting and hurdling. It is unclear whether he was in fact eligible to compete in Varsity matches, not being a member of the
College. Television coverage survives of him making false starts in a 1964 sprint race, but despite the rules Archer was not disqualified. He gained a blue in athletics and went on to run for England once and also competed for Great Britain once and was successful.
Even as a student Jeffrey Archer was plagued with rumours of financial wrongdoing - fellow undergraduates were amazed that he owned houses and cars with personalised number plates while working part time as an Oxfam fund
He raised money for the charity Oxfam, obtaining the support of The
Beatles in a charity fundraising drive. The band accepted his invitation to visit the senior common room of Brasenose College, where they were photographed with Archer and dons of the college, although they did not play there. The critic Sheridan Morley, then a student at Merton, was present and recalled the occasion:
At the interval I went to the toilet, and there beside me was Ringo Starr. He asked if I knew this Jeffrey Archer bloke. I said everyone in Oxford was trying to work out who he was. Ringo said: 'He strikes me as a nice enough fella, but he's the kind of bloke who would bottle your piss and sell
It was during this period that Archer met his wife, Mary Weeden, at that time studying chemistry at St Anne's College, Oxford. They married in July 1966. Mary went on to specialise in
Archer's book Scorpion Trail
After leaving Oxford, he continued as a charity fundraiser, working for the National Birthday Trust, a medical charity. He also began a career in politics, serving as a Conservative councillor on the Greater London Council during 1967–70.
One organisation Archer worked for, the United Nations Association, alleged discrepancies in his claims for expenses, and details appeared in the press in a scrambled form. Archer brought a defamation action against the former Conservative member of parliament Humphry Berkeley, chairman of the UNA, as the source of the allegations. The case was settled out of court after three years. Berkeley tried to persuade Conservative Central Office that Archer was unsuitable as a parliamentary candidate, but a selection meeting at Louth disregarded any
Archer set up his own fund-raising company, Arrow Enterprises, in 1969. That same year he opened an art gallery, the Archer Gallery, in Mayfair. The gallery specialised in modern
art, including pieces by the acclaimed sculptor and painter Leon Underwood. The gallery ultimately lost money, however, and Archer sold it two years later.
His first book, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, was picked up by the literary agent Deborah Owen and published first in the US, then eventually in Britain in the Autumn of 1976. The book was an instant success and Archer avoided bankruptcy, never being legally declared bankrupt. A BBC Television adaptation of the book was broadcast in 1990, and a radio adaptation was aired on BBC Radio 4 in the early 1980s.
Kane and Abel proved to be his best-selling work, reaching number one on the New York Times bestsellers list. It was made into a television mini-series by CBS in 1985, starring Peter Strauss and Sam Neill. The following year, Granada TV screened a ten-part adaptation of another Archer bestseller, First Among Equals, which told the story of four men and their quest to become Prime
Archer states he spends considerable time writing and re-writing each book. He goes abroad to write the first draft, working in blocks of two-hours at a time, then writes anything up to seventeen further drafts. It has been suggested that his books require extensive editing by others to make them
In 2011, Archer published the first of five books in The Clifton Chronicles, which follow the life of Harry Clifton from his birth in 1920, through to the finale in 2020. Only Time Will Tell tells the story of Harry from 1920 through to 1940 and was published in the UK on 12 May 2011. In March 2011 he visited New Zealand as part of a promotional tour. His stops included an interview on
Radio Live with hosts Willie Jackson and former-disgraced-MP John
Member of ParliamentAt 29, he was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for the Lincolnshire constituency of Louth, holding the seat for the Conservative Party in a by-election on 4 December 1969. Archer beat Ian Gow to the selection after winning over a substantial proportion of younger members at the selection meeting. The national party had concerns about Archer's selection, but these were dismissed by the local Conservative association after representatives made a journey to party headquarters to discuss the matter. Archer's campaign colour was a dayglo orange/pink with a blue arrow; the political parties in Lincolnshire had not yet abandoned local colours, which were different from the party national colours.
Louth constituency had three key areas: Louth, Cleethorpes, and Immingham. During his time as a Member of Parliament, Archer was a regular at the Immingham Conservative Club in the most working-class part of the constituency.
He took part in the "Kennedy Memorial Test" in 1970, a 50 mile running/walking race from Louth to Skegness and back. This raised funds for the building of Louth Swimming Pool, which was subsequently opened by his wife in March 1974.
In Parliament, Archer was on the left of the Conservative Party, rebelling against some of his party's policies. He urged free TV licences for the elderly and was against museum charges. Archer voted against restoring capital punishment, saying it was barbaric and obscene. In 1971, he employed David Mellor, then needing money for his bar finals, to deal with his correspondence. He tipped Mellor to reach the cabinet. In an interview Archer said, "I hope we don't return to extremes. I'm what you might call centre-right but I've always disliked the right wing as much as I've disliked the left
In 1974, he was a casualty of a fraudulent investment scheme involving Aquablast, a
Canadian company, a debacle which lost Archer his first
fortune. Fearing imminent bankruptcy, he stood down as an MP at the October 1974 general election. By this time the Archers were living in a large five-bedroom house in The Boltons, an exclusive street in South Kensington. As a result of the Aquablast affair, they were forced to sell the house and move into more modest accommodation for a while.
Return to politics: Deputy party
Archer's political career revived once he became known for his novels and as a popular speaker among the Conservative grassroots. He was made deputy chairman of the
Conservative Party by Margaret Thatcher in September 1985. Norman Tebbit, party chairman, had misgivings over the appointment, as did other prominent members of the party, including William Whitelaw and Ted Heath. During his tenure as deputy chairman, Archer was responsible for a number of embarrassing moments, including his statement, made during a live radio interview, that many young, unemployed people were simply unwilling to find work. At the time of Archer's comment, unemployment in the UK stood at a record 3.4 million. Archer was later forced to apologise for the remark, suggesting that his words had been "taken out of context".
Archer resigned in October 1986 due to a scandal caused by an article in The
News of the World, which led on the story "Tory boss Archer pays vice-girl" and claimed Archer had paid Monica Coghlan, a prostitute, £2,000 through an intermediary at Victoria Station to go
Daily Star libel
Compounding on this story, the Daily Star alleged that Archer had paid
for sex with
Coghlan. Archer responded by suing the Daily Star. The case came to court in July 1987. Explaining the payment to Coghlan as the action of a philanthropist rather than that of a guilty man, Archer won the case and was awarded £500,000 damages. Archer stated he would donate the money to charity. This case would ultimately result in Archer's final exit from front-line politics some years later.
The description the judge (Mr Justice Caulfield) gave of Mrs Archer in his jury instructions included: "Remember Mary Archer in the witness-box. Your vision of her probably will never disappear. Has she elegance? Has she fragrance? Would she have, without the strain of this trial, radiance? How would she appeal? Has she had a happy married life? Has she been able to enjoy, rather than endure, her husband Jeffrey?" The judge then went on to say of Jeffrey Archer, "Is he in need of cold, unloving, rubber-insulated sex in a seedy hotel round about quarter to one on a Tuesday morning after an evening at the
Caprice?" By this time, according to the journalist Adam Raphael, Jeffrey and Mary Archer were, in fact, living largely separate lives. The editor of the Daily Star, Lloyd Turner, was sacked six weeks after the trial by the paper's owner Lord Stevens of
Archer lost a libel case after accusations in his book Twist in the Tale, portraying Major General James Oluleye to be a thief. (Oluleye is the author of Architecturing a Destiny and Military Leadership in
Kurdish charity and
When Saddam Hussein suppressed Kurdish uprisings in 1991, Archer, with the Red Cross, set up the charity Simple Truth, a fundraising campaign on behalf of the
Kurds." In May 1991, Archer organised a charity pop concert, starring
Rod Stewart, Paul Simon, Sting and Gloria Estefan, who all performed free. Archer claimed that his charity had raised £57,042,000, though it was later revealed that only £3 million came from the Simple Truth concert and appeal, the rest from aid projects sponsored by the British and other governments, with significant amounts pledged before the
concert. The charity would later result in further controversy.
Having been previously rejected, Archer was made a life peer in 1992 as Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare, of Mark in the County of Somerset. Prime minister John Major recommended him largely because of Archer's role in aid to the
Political statements in
In a speech at the 1993 Conservative conference, Archer urged then Home Secretary Michael Howard, to "Stand and deliver," saying: "Michael, I am sick and tired of being told by old people that they are frightened to open the door, they're frightened to go out at night, frightened to use the parks and byways where their parents and grandparents walked with freedom ... We say to you: stand and deliver!". He then attacked violent films and urged tougher prison conditions to prevent criminals from re-offending. He criticised the role of "do-gooders" and finished off the speech by denouncing the opposition party's law and order
policies. On Question Time in February 1994, Archer stated that 18 should be the age of consent for homosexuality, as opposed to 21, which it was at the time. Archer has also consistently been an opponent of a return to capital punishment.
Allegations of insider
In January 1994, Mary Archer, then a director of Anglia Television, attended a directors' meeting at which an impending takeover of Anglia Television by MAI, which owned Meridian Broadcasting, was
discussed. The following day, Jeffrey Archer bought 50,000 shares in Anglia Television, acting on behalf of a friend, Broosk
Saib. Shortly after this, it was announced publicly that Anglia Television would be taken over by MAI. As a result the shares jumped in value, whereupon Archer sold them on behalf of his friend for a profit of £77,219. The arrangements he made with the stockbrokers meant he did not have to pay at the time of buying the
An inquiry was launched by the Stock Exchange into possible insider trading. The Department of Trade and Industry, headed by Michael Heseltine, announced that Archer would not be
prosecuted. Archer later claimed that he had been "exonerated", but the DTI inquiry had merely stated that there was insufficient evidence to bring a prosecution.
London mayoral candidacy and perjury
In 1999, Archer had been selected by the Conservative Party as candidate for the London mayoral election of 2000, when, on 21 November, the News of the World published allegations that he had committed perjury in his 1987 libel case. Archer withdrew his candidacy the following
The basis of the allegations originated with Ted Francis, a friend who claimed Archer owed him money, and Angela
Peppiatt, Archer's former personal assistant. They stated that Archer had fabricated an alibi in the 1987 trial and were concerned that Archer was unsuitable to stand as Mayor of London. Peppiatt had kept a diary of Archer's movements, which contradicted evidence given during the 1987
After the allegations, Archer was disowned by his party. Conservative leader William Hague explained: "This is the end of politics for Jeffrey Archer. I will not tolerate such behaviour in my
party." On 4 February 2000, Archer was expelled from the party for five
On 26 September 2000, he was charged with perjury and perverting the course of justice during the 1987 libel
trial. Simultaneously, Archer starred in a production of his courtroom play The Accused, staged at London's Theatre
Royal Haymarket. The play concerned the court trial of an alleged murderer and assigned the role of jury to the audience, which would vote on the guilt of Archer's character at the end of each
The perjury trial began on 30 May 2001, a month after Monica Coghlan's death. Archer never spoke during the trial, though his wife Mary again gave evidence as she had done during the 1987 trial. When Archer's mother
died on 11 July, aged 87, he was released for the day to attend the
funeral. On 19 July 2001, Archer was found guilty of perjury and perverting the course of justice at the 1987 trial. He was sentenced to four years' imprisonment by Mr Justice Potts. Ted Francis was found not guilty of perverting the course of justice.
Frost - 2008 - Youtube
Anderson - Youtube
Archer was sent to Belmarsh Prison, a Category "A"
prison, but was moved to Wayland Prison, a Category "C" prison in Norfolk on 9 August 2001. Despite automatically qualifying as a category "D" prisoner given it was a first conviction and he did not pose serious risk of harm to the public, his status as such was suspended pending a police investigation into allegations about his Kurdish charity. He was then transferred to North Sea Camp, an open prison, in October 2001. From there he was let out to work at the Theatre Royal in Lincoln, and was allowed occasional home visits. Media reports claimed he had been abusing this privilege by attending lunches with friends, including former Education Secretary Gillian Shephard and in September 2002 he was transferred to a Category "B" prison, Lincoln, for a month, before returning to a Category "D" prison, Hollesley Bay in Suffolk.
While in prison, he wrote the three-volume memoir A Prison
Diary, with volumes fashioned after Dante's Divine Comedy and named after the first three prisons he was kept in. During his imprisonment, Archer was visited by a number of high-profile friends, including the actor Donald
Sinden and the performer Barry Humphries.
In October 2002, Archer repaid the Daily Star the £500,000 damages he had received in 1987, as well as legal costs and interest of £1.3
million. That month, he was suspended from Marylebone Cricket Club for seven
On 21 July 2003, Archer was released on licence, after serving half of his sentence, from HMP Hollesley Bay,
Archer can keep his peerage as it is a life peerage rather than "an honour under the Crown". An Act of Parliament would be required to enable such a change to someone's
peerage. As he is no longer under the whip of the Conservative Party, Archer currently sits as a non-affiliated member in the House of Lords.
In July 2001, shortly after being jailed for perjury, Archer's name was again shrouded in controversy, when Scotland Yard began investigating allegations that millions of pounds had disappeared from Archer's Kurdish
charity. In 1991, Archer had claimed to have raised £57,042,000. In 1992, the Kurdish Disaster Fund had written to Archer, complaining: "You must be concerned that the Kurdish refugees have seen hardly any of the huge sums raised in the west in their name." Kurdish groups claimed little more than £250,000 had been received by groups in Iraq. Archer then had gone to Iraq on a fact-finding mission, where his chant of "Long Live Kurdistan" was mis-translated as "Bastard, Devilish
A British Red Cross-commissioned KPMG audit of the cash showed no donations were handled by Archer and any misappropriation was "unlikely". But KPMG could find no evidence to support Archer's claims to have raised £31.5 million from overseas governments. The
police said they would launch a "preliminary assessment of the facts" from the audit but were not investigating the Simple Truth
Many of Archer's friends remained loyal. He and Lady Archer were guests at the memorial service for Norris McWhirter at Saint Martin-in-the-Fields on Thursday 7 October 2004 where they sat in the same pew as Gregory Lauder-Frost, the former head of the Conservative Monday Club, and in front of Lady
Thatcher, who embraced Lady
In 2004, the government of Equatorial Guinea alleged that Archer was one of the financiers of the failed 2004 coup d'état attempt against them, citing bank details and telephone records as
evidence. In 2009, Archer said: “I am completely relaxed about it. Mr Mann [the English mercenary leader of the coup] has made clear that it’s nothing to do with me.’’ In 2011 the English mercenary Simon Mann, jailed in Equatorial Guinea for his part in leading the failed 2004 coup d'état attempt told The Daily
Telegraph that his forthcoming book Cry Havoc would reveal “the financial involvement of a controversial and internationally famous member of the British House of Lords in the plot, backed up by banking records”. He claimed that documents from the
bank accounts in Guernsey of two companies Mann used as vehicles for organising the coup, showed a 'J
H Archer' paying $135,000 into one of the firms.
On 26 February 2006, on Andrew Marr's Sunday AM programme, Archer said he had no interest in returning to front-line politics: he would pursue his writing
instead. He has confirmed this when speaking at the Emmanuel College Politics Society and the
Christ's Politics Society at the University of Cambridge.
In 1979, Archer purchased the Old Vicarage, Grantchester, a house associated with the poet Rupert Brooke. He also began to hold shepherd's pie and Krug parties for prominent people at his London apartment, which overlooks the Houses of
While he was a witness in the Aquablast case in Toronto in 1977, Archer was accused of taking three suits from a department store, an accusation he denied for many years. However, in the late 1990s, Archer finally acknowledged that he had indeed taken the suits, although he claimed that at the time he had not realised he had left the
shop. No charges were brought.
Archer's Shadow Hunter
Archer was satirically portrayed as a misunderstood secret agent, saviour of Britain and mankind and "overall thoroughly good chap", by actor Damian Lewis in the BBC drama Jeffrey Archer: The Truth
(2002), which received strong reviews. Script writer Guy Jenkin explained that "my Jeffrey Archer is the man who has frequently saved Britain over the last 30 years. He's beloved of all
women he comes across, all men, all
dogs – he's a superhero".
Archer's life was parodied in November 2004 on BBC Radio 4 on an episode of the first series of 15 Minute Musical entitled "Jeffrey! The Operetta", a Gilbert and Sullivan-style spoof.
In There's No Place Like a Home, a comedy play by Paul Elliot, the residents of a retirement home for actors and actresses, trying to prevent its closure, kidnap Archer to use the ransom
money to keep their home open.
The satirical magazine Private Eye refers to Archer as 'Jeffrey Archole' or 'Lord Archole' and characterises him as a liar and fantasist. On occasion it has published spoofs of Archer's fiction, describing a thinly-veiled heroic version of himself called 'Jeremy Bowman'. Eye "diarist" Craig Brown mocked Mary Archer's support for him in his version of her writings: "I am the chairman of the Ethics Committee at Addenbrookes hospital, and well used to coming down hard on those who lie incompetently."
Day 115 Saturday 10th November 2001 6.38am It’s all an act. I am hopelessly unhappy, dejected and broken. I smile when I am at my lowest, I laugh when I see no humour, I help others when I need help myself. I am alone. If I were to show any sign, even for a moment, of what I’m going through, I would have to read the details in some tabloid the following day. Everything I do is only a phone call away from a friendly journalist with an open cheque book. I don’t know where I have found the strength to maintain this facade and never break down in anyone’s presence. The final volume of Jeffrey Archer’s prison diaries covers the period of his transfer from Wayland to his eventual release on parole in July 2003. It includes a shocking account of the traumatic time he spent in the notorious Lincoln jail and the events that led to his incarceration there – it also throws light on a system that is close to breaking point. Told with humour, compassion and honesty, it closes with a thought-provoking manifesto that should be applauded by the Establishment and prison population alike.
Kane and Abel seriesShall We Tell the President? (1977)
Kane and Abel (1980)
The Prodigal Daughter (1982)
Prison diaries (non-fiction)1. Hell – Belmarsh (2002)
2. Purgatory – Wayland (2003)
3. Heaven – North Sea Camp (2004)
Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less (1976)
First Among Equals (1984)
A Matter of Honour (1986)
As the Crow Flies (1991)
Honour Among Thieves (1993)
The Fourth Estate (1996)
The Eleventh Commandment (1998)
Sons of Fortune (2002)
False Impression (2005)
The Gospel According to Judas by Benjamin Iscariot With Francis J. Moloney (2007)
A Prisoner of Birth (2008)
Paths of Glory (2009)
Only Time Will Tell (2011)
The Sins of the Father (2012)
Best Kept Secret (March 2013)
Beyond Reasonable Doubt (1987)
The Accused (2000)
A Quiver Full of Arrows (1980)
A Twist in the Tale (1989)
Fools, Knaves, and Heroes: Great Political Short Stories Editor, Introduction. (1991)
Twelve Red Herrings (1994)
The Collected Short Stories (1997)
To Cut a Long Story Short (2000)
Cat O'Nine Tales (2006)
And Thereby Hangs a Tale (2010)
The New Collected Short Stories(2011)
The First Miracle (1980)
By Royal Appointment (1980)
Willy Visits the Square World (1980)
Willy and the Killer Kipper (1981)
Only Time Will Tell (2011)
The Sins of the Father (2012)
Best Kept Secret (2013)
for release in the UK until after the subject's Appeal
the European Court of Human Rights is heard,
lodged March of 2012
Papal Visit, Official blog, 20 September 2010
Archer: The next chapter The Daily Telegraph, 2 March 2008
lied his way to the top Daily
of his own Demise http://sgp1.paddington.ninemsn.com.au/sunday/feature_stories/
and Fall of Jeffrey Archer The
rise and fall of Jeffrey Archer
Archer the extraordinary story of his downfall Courtnewsuk.co.uk
ambitious, generous and naive
ambitious, generous and naive The Guardian
Rise and Fall of Jeffrey Archer
Archer interview with Willie & JT, RadioLIVE
Archer answers your questions
marriage under spotlight
demands £2.2m from Archer
fraud allegations: the simple truth
share deal under scrutiny again
in fury as DTI questions TV shares deal again
Stranger than fiction
Francis: Archer whistleblower
Archer jettisoned by Tories
– The Accused Curtain Up
jailed for perjury
celeb jail visitor for Archer Sunday Mirror
We Met: Barry Humprhies & Jeffrey Archer
that's what he was up to when he wasn't out for lunch
settles £1.8m libel debt with newspaper
gives Archer out – for seven years London
Archer freed from prison". London: BBC. 22 September 2003.
Archer may lose peerage". London: Guardian
faces 'missing aid' probe BBC
(London). 23 July 2001
Archer link to coup plot alleged
mercenary Simon Mann provides vidence’ of peer’s role in failed coup
'may vote in Lords again'". London: BBC. 26 February 2006.
Archer: The Truth – BBC Drama
at Parliament of the United Kingdom
in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
record at PublicWhip.org
in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou.com
at BBC News
Archer on Charlie Rose
Archer at the Internet
Archer collected news and commentary at The
Archer collected news and commentary at The
New York Times
Depth: Archer Trial at BBC
Brown Literary Agency
by or about Jeffrey Archer in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
Cameron visits his chum, checking out the accommodation
his stint as PM be held to be criminal: "Hmmm, I'll have the top
Archer's A Prison Diary
Archer Prison Diary 'Purgatory'
Archer - A Prison Diary ' Heaven'
Archer best selling author
Archer From Hell To Heaven - complete collection
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