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Jeffrey Archer: Shamed Tory politician-turned writer was once bankrupt but is now worth £200million

Mirror logo Mirror 12/11/2018 Kevin Maguire
a man smiling for the camera: Wealthy Jeffrey Archer is definitely loving life in 2018 but fears Corbyn's threats about taxing multi-millionaires© Phil Harris / Daily Mirror Wealthy Jeffrey Archer is definitely loving life in 2018 but fears Corbyn's threats about taxing multi-millionaires

The rise and fall then rise again of Jeffrey Archer is a story as compelling as any in the dozens of novels written by this best-selling phenomenon.

Once a near-bankrupt, he is now worth an estimated £200million.

Rich and privileged, a shamed Tory politician jailed for lying to a judge about paying a prostitute for sex, he is even beginning to feel guilty about his good fortune.

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The dizzying many lives of the boy from Weston-super-Mare include a magnificent penthouse on the south bank of the Thames, giving the controversial peer unrivalled views of a Parliament bankruptcy forced him to vacate as an MP before returning unelected.

Video: Jeffrey Archer Describes Writing Inspiration As His God Given Gift (LBC)

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The luxurious apartment is an art gallery in the sky, with Archer advising visitors seeking the bathroom during his Krug and shepherd’s pie parties to walk past the Monet then left at the Picasso.

“No, no, no, no – I have never said it, have IAlison?”, he shrieks playfully to a devoted assistant.

“No, he never has,” she replies in this little pantomime.

All three of us know, of course, Archer does. Regularly.

Jeffrey Archer smiling for the camera© Credits: Phil Harris / Daily Mirror

“It’s a tease,” he laughs defensively. “And I was told that under no circumstances was I to say that to you so you would take it seriously.”

The paintings are expensive signposts to a loo where another prized piece, a Hockney self-portrait, hangs over the toilet.

The ex-Conservative vice-chair and potential Tory candidate for Mayor of London until jail and disgrace, rarely attends the Lords and is toying with retiring from it when he reaches 80 in two years.

But he remains interested in politics.

Mary Archer, Jeffrey Archer are posing for a picture© Credits: PA

During our chat he breaks off to take a call within my hearing from Nadhim Zahawi, an education minister, with Archer passing on an uncannily accurate prediction gleaned from lunch with a Canadian former foreign secretary that Donald Trump would tighten his grip on the US Senate.

Despondent about his own warring party’s prospects, Archer frets Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would heavily tax multi-millionaires like himself.

Worrying the divided Tories will beat themselves to gift the Islington revolutionary a backdoor key to No10, Archer growls: “I don’t think Corbyn can win but I do think the Conservatives can lose.

“It would be terrible. I can think of half a dozen leaders of the Labour Party I would welcome after a 12-year period and he is not one of them.

a man sitting on a table© Credits: Phil Harris / Daily Mirror

“John McDonnell is not one of them.”

David Miliband, a Labour red prince over the water in the US, is one.

Backbench MPs Chuka Umunna and Yvette Cooper are others.

Labour is proposing to tax annual income above £123,000 at just 50p, yet at a higher rate the book machine concedes he would keep writing.

a man standing in front of a building© Credits: Philip Coburn/Daily Mirror

Nor is he threatening to flee a Britain led by a Prime Minister Corbyn.

“I want to live in this country. I love this country,” he emphasises.

“I want to see Somerset play cricket. I wish they’d win occasionally.

"I want to see Bristol Rovers play football. I wish they’d win occasionally.

Jeffrey Archer looking at the camera© Credits: Phil Harris / Daily Mirror

“I want to see the theatre twice a week. I want to go to art galleries twice a week, please.

“You only get one life and those of my friends who’ve shot off to strange places,” he says before pausing momentarily, restarting with condemnation.

“John Cleese, who I don’t know, I couldn’t believe it when he said he was going to Nevis. I had to look it up on the map. It’s got 330,000 people.”

Nevis is a Caribbean tax haven, and the furthest Archer is likely to go is his palatial holiday villa on Majorca.

Jeffrey Archer wearing a suit and tie© Credits: Arnold Slater/Daily Mirror

The storyteller’s latest novel is a thriller, Heads You Win, charting the fate of a teenager who escapes Russia after the KGB assassinates his trade union activist father.

Effectively banned in Putin’s Russia where no company is willing to risk publishing the book, Archer acknowledges the Salisbury poisonings have pricked interest.

Story telling caused Archer problems in his political life, with accusations he gilded achievements, including education, to give himself a leg up from a middle class background in Somerset before striking gold with the likes of Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less.

Snooty literary critics resent his popularity – he has sold more than 275 million books – and a friend of the author claims Archer was a victim of snobbery much of his life.

a man standing in front of a building© Credits: PA Archive/PA Images

Was he aware of it?

“Oh very conscious of it,” replies Archer.

In the Lords, he adds, grand landed peers inheriting seats and country homes stretching back into the mist of time split between those who treated him as an equal and those who look down their noses.

He says: “Snobbery in this country lasted a long time.

Jeffrey Archer, Mary Archer are posing for a picture© Credits: Kent Gavin/Daily Mirror

“I love watching black and white movies when you see, not only are they better stories than you get now, but the snobbery is unbelievable.

“If you go right back to Pride and Prejudice... there was an aristocracy, upper class, upper middle class, middle class, lower middle class, lower class and working class.

“And you knew which you belonged to and you could only fight to get to the one above. You couldn’t get right to the top.”

Archer’s wife Mary is a constant presence in his conversation despite not being present when I visited the penthouse. She had left earlier for London’s Science Museum which she chairs.

a black and red text© Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited

Archer clearly adores the woman who stood by him after his public disgrace.

“She’s absolutely wonderful,” he says. “And I know how fortunate I am.”

The once brash Tory thruster who survived cancer admits he has mellowed with age.

“Yes. Everybody thinks so. It’s very sad,” he laughs.

Jeffrey Archer in a suit and tie© Credits: Phil Harris / Daily Mirror

“I had an Indian come in the other day... I said ‘listen, you worm’, and he said ‘oh my god, Jeffrey.

“I remember the days when you called me a pathetic worm. What’s wrong, Jeffrey?’.”

The pivotal moment was that 2001 jailing for perjury which led to him campaigning for penal reform as well as producing, in typical Archer style, three bestselling volumes of prison diaries.

a man wearing a suit and tie© Credits: Getty Images

“I certainly realised how privileged I was, how lucky I was,” he says.

“There was one kid sitting on the end of the bed when I was leaving on the Monday and he said ‘I’d change places with you’.

"I said ‘wait a minute, I’m 62 years old. You’re 27. You’ve got a deal’. He said ‘No, no, I’m a heroin addict’ and he died two years later.

Jeffrey Archer wearing a suit and tie© Credits: Daily Mirror

“I see him on the bottom of the bed regularly.”

Archer is vowing to continue writing as long as readers buy his books.

“Frightened to stop,” he says. “If the stories dried up I might say ‘I’m 78, what the hell? I’m going to live in Majorca and you can all jump in a lake’.

“But as long as the stories are coming I’m going to go on and on and on.

a close up of a sign© Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited

“If you had a boring job putting wheels on cars for Volkswagen you might feel ‘at 60 I’m very happy to do something else’.

“But I’ve got a very exciting job which I still enjoy.”


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