Tory Leader May Face Probe over Alleged Theft of Millions Donated to Iraqi Kurds

Published July 23rd, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Jeffrey Archer, a leading UK Conservative Party politician and a bestseller political writer could face a police investigation into claims that millions of pounds of charity money raised for Iraqi Kurdish refugees was stolen, it was disclosed on Saturday, according to a report by  

Ex-Tory MP Emma Nicholson said she was prepared to make a formal complaint to Scotland Yard's fraud squad over funds missing from the Simple Truth appeal, organized by Archer in 1991, in the aftermath of the Gulf War.  

Shamed peer Archer, who fleetingly left Belmarsh Prison Saurday to attend his mother's funeral, said, at the time, that £57 million was collected for Kurds in Iraq after the Gulf War.  

But Liberal Democrat MEP Baroness Nicholson, who defected from the Tories in 1995, said that "practically nothing" had reached the Kurdish people, according to the report.  

The MEP and former vice chairman of the Conservative Party, who supports the Iraqi refugee charity AMAR, today urged investigators to contact the Kurdish community.  

"What needs to happen now is for people to talk to the Kurds to hear their side of the story," she said.  

"It is claimed that £57 million was raised, but when the Kurdish people came to see me, practically nothing of that had come to them."  

In a newspaper article, Nicholson was quoted as saying that: "I have no doubt money was stolen and there is an urgent need that Archer's activities should be investigated."  

The newspaper reports that as little as £250,000 reached refugees in Iraq.  

The appeal by Archer, who was convicted of perjury perverting the course of justice, centered on a high-profile charity concert staged at Wembley Arena in London.  

Attracting support from singers Chris de Burgh, Paul Simon and Sting, it was watched by a worldwide television audience of 50 million.  

John Major, the British prime minister at the time, pledged £10 million for the appeal from the government.  

A Scotland Yard spokesman said the fraud squad would investigate any complaint made against Archer in connection with the Simple Truth appeal, said the report. 

Born in 1940, Jeffrey Archer became the youngest member of the House of Commons in 1969, where he served until 1974. He was appointed deputy chairman of the Conservative Party in 1985 and was elevated to the House of Lords in 1992. All of his novels have been international bestsellers – 

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