Britain's millionaire novelist Lord Jeffrey Archer was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison for lying in a lawsuit he launched against a newspaper that reported he'd hired a prostitute.

Archer was found guilty on four counts of perjury and obstructing justice and acquitted on one count. He was ordered to pay about $377,000 in costs to the Daily Star and may face a lawsuit by the paper.

In 1987, Archer won a million-dollar settlement in his court battle against the Star. But the case unravelled in 1999 when a key witness, Ted Francis, went public saying Archer had persuaded him to cook up a false alibi.

Francis was acquitted on Thursday of perverting the course of justice.

"These charges represent as serious an offence of perjury as I have had experience of and have been able to find in the books," Justice Francis Potts said while sentencing Archer.

Archer, joined by his wife Mary and son William, showed little emotion as he listened to the verdict.

Archer had to resign as the Conservative party's candidate for mayor of London when the news surfaced. A prominent member of London society, his circle of supporters and friends included former prime ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major, as well as the late Diana, Princess of Wales.