Sunday, May 02, 2010

The illustrated Hello: Jeffrey Archer

Jeffrey Archer was the self-appointed "World's Greatest Storyteller", and certainly told some massive whoppers in court. But he's served his time, so let's not let the fact the former chairman of the Conservative Party is a convicted perjurer detain us overlong. Let's not keep harping on about how one of the senior figures in the Tory party was so convinced he was untouchable, he went into a witness box and lied and lied and lied. It's all in the past, so let's no go on about it. Let's not run through again how William Hague - the man who might be our foreign secretary - described him as a man of "outstanding integrity". All in the past.

Let's just remember Archer as he was, shall we?

But, of course, simply being a chat show whore doesn't quite tie Jeffrey Archer to pop culture firmly enough for our purposes. (Although given some of the tenuous links we've been making in this feature, it might have done for a couple of them.)

Instead, let's remember the time Archer tried to reinvent himself as Bob Geldof, organising a concert in aid of the Kurds. At the time, the Kurds were being persecuted by Saddam Hussein, and there was a lot of support for a big, international, charity fundraiser. Madonna, MC Hammer, The Gypsy Kings - there were lots of big names involved.

Here's some MTV's coverage:

Raising money for a good cause - what could be wrong with that, eh? And there was a load of money, too: Archer appeared shortly after waving a cheque for £57million - the bulk of which had been "pledged" by foreign governments.

Funny thing, though: the Kurds never got to see anything like fifty million quid:

Former Conservative Party vice chairman Lady Nicholson has said she will lodge an official complaint with Scotland Yard and the Serious Fraud Squad.

Baroness Nicholson, who left the Tory party to join the Liberal Democrats in 1995, says "practically nothing" of the £57m Archer said he collected had reached the Kurdish people.

The Red Cross employed KPMG to find out what had happened to all the money. KPMG made it clear they didn't believe that any of the cash had gone astray. More puzzling, they couldn't seem to turn up any evidence of most of the money ever being there in the first place. About thrity million quid seems to have just been a figment of Archer's imagination.

The world's greatest story teller, indeed.

[Part of the Illustrated Hello]