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July 20, 2001
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Jeffrey Archer's story ends in prison

Shyam Bhatia in London

Best selling author Lord Jeffrey Archer was revealed as a liar and confidence trickster as he was convicted of perjury and intending to pervert the course of justice at London's Old Bailey court on Thursday.

Before sentencing the 61-year-old millionaire peer and former Conservative Party deputy chairman to four years imprisonment Justice Potts told him, "I'm bound to tell you that I take the view that having listened to the evidence over many days, that these charges represent as serious an offence of perjury as I have had experience of and as I have been able to find in the books."

Archer has also been told he is likely to have to serve at least 32 months in prison before his release when he will remain on licence for the next 16 months, and could be returned to prison if he offended again.

The case against Archer arose from a 1987 libel case he brought against the Daily Star newspaper after it alleged he had had sex with London prostitute Monica Coghlan.

After denying the encounter and winning his court case, Archer netted 500,000 in damages.

Fourteen years later, the perjury and perverting justice charges were brought to court after Archer's former friend Ted Francis said both he and Archer had concocted a false alibi to deny the newspaper's allegations.

On Thursday, 67-year-old Francis, a retired television producer, was found not guilty of perverting the course of justice by providing the false alibi.

As Archer started his sentence at London's Belmarsh prison, his legal team announced they would be appealing the sentence.

Solicitor Tony Morton-Hooper said, "Jeffrey Archer and his family are shocked and disappointed by the decision. I can confirm that we shall be lodging an appeal."

"It would be inappropriate for me to say anything more at this stage and the family will not be answering any questions."

Daily Star editor Peter Hill said, "No one should have any sympathy for Jeffrey Archer. He is a proven liar, a cheat and a chancer, a man so arrogant that he thought he was above the law. Finally, he has got what he deserved."

The newspaper has declared it intends to try and recover the original 500,000 damages it paid to Archer, as well as another one and a half million pounds in interest and legal costs.

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