The Guardian: Letter – vindication of the rights of Monica Coghlan
At last, a vindication of the rights of Monica Coghlan, a working class woman who came to court 14 years ago and told the truth about Jeffrey Archer. Ms Coghlan like many other women in the eighties fled the poverty of the North and went into prostitution in London to support her young child.
In court Ms Coghlan, of mixed race, was branded by her sex, race and class and by the prostitution laws which label and condemn women. Her evidence was dismissed. Lord Archer, crook, liar and conman, was protected from the allegation of having been her client, by his sex, race, powerful class connections and money. It was she who was sullied by his company, not he by hers.
Ms Coghlan’s is the story of most sex workers who end up in court, whether as witnesses or facing charges. People are vocal in condemning Jeffrey Archer now, but there is no regret that they allowed her victimisation in the earlier trial. Ms Coghlan had been hounded, first by the press, then by the tax man.
Her family whom she had sought to protect was sorely shaken. Supporting a child by working on the street is apparently not as fragrant as being the wife of a millionaire liar, and not as deserving of justice.
We hope that Ms Coghlan’s son knows that many people believed and defended his mother at the time. We deeply regret that she is not here to be vindicated.
The Star will sue for compensation. How will Ms Coghlan’s son be compensated for the unjust slander of his mother?
This trial, part of the clean-up of the Thatcher years, is bound to reveal other corruption and worse in high places. It is a warning to those who, having power now, think they can get away with murder.
In respectful memory of Monica Coghlan,
English Collective of Prostitutes
Crossroads Women’s Centre
PO Box 287, London NW6 5QU