Talented and ambitious, the disgraced British peer and former Conservative Party deputy chairman was a high flyer who never quite escaped scandal, despite a talent for bouncing back from humiliating setbacks.
Politics and sex were the ingredients which ensured his success as a novelist. But in real life the combination led to the downfall of the man who hoped to become mayor of London.
He was tried for perjury and perverting the course of justice after the confession of a friend, Ted Francis, who admitted he had supplied a false alibi for Archer during a libel case the peer brought against the Daily Star in 1987.
The tabloid newspaper had said Archer slept with a prostitute. Archer, now 63, sued and won $800,000 in damages. But the case was destined to come back to haunt him.
Life reflects novels
Ambitious from his earliest years, Archer used his fund-raising abilities to climb almost to the top of the Conservative Party.
He joined the Tories while a student at Britain’s Oxford University and launched his political career a year after leaving college by securing a seat for the party on the Greater London Council in 1966.
Three years later, in 1969, he won a resounding by-election victory to become a member of parliament at the age of 29.
His parliamentary career came to an abrupt end in 1974 when he was brought to the brink of bankruptcy by the collapse of a Canadian industrial cleaning company in which he had invested.
Archer was released on parole
However, with typical resilience he used his experiences as material for his first book “Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less”, published in 1975, the first of a series of blockbusters set in the worlds of high finance and politics.
Panned by the critics, his novels nevertheless earned him a fortune and Archer nursed hopes of a political revival while using his contacts and persuasiveness to raise millions of pounds for the Tories.
Rise and fall
In 1985, his efforts were recognised by Margaret Thatcher, who named him Conservative deputy chairman and described him as a model Tory high achiever.
But a year after his appointment, he was forced to resign by what he described as a “lack of judgment” after sending $3,000 to a “complete scrubber of a prostitute” – Monica Coghlan.
In 1992 he was recommended by Thatcher’s successor John Major for a peerage, entitling him to sit in the House of Lords, the upper chamber of parliament.
His seesaw career received another setback in 1994 when questions were raised over his purchase of shares in Anglia TV, of which his wife Mary was a director.
An official inquiry acquitted Archer and soon he was campaigning to be the Tory party’s candidate to become the first elected mayor of London.
In November 1999, however, the rumour surfaced that he had asked Francis to provide him with a false alibi against the Daily Star. Archer was forced to abandon his bid and was expelled from the party.
The star witness in his court case was Archer’s long-suffering wife Mary, 58, an academic who has stood behind her husband in his many mishaps.
Famously praised for her “fragrance” by the judge in the 1987 libel trial, Mrs Archer later admitted she had learnt in a newspaper of her husband’s affair with one of his personal assistants, Andrina Colquhoun.
She said: “We’ve explored the further reaches of ‘for better and for worse’ than most couples.”