Archer's Sunday breaks in Aldeburgh

By Richard SmithDISGRACED peer Jeffrey Archer used to visit Aldeburgh for Sunday lunch while he was staying in an open prison in East Anglia, it has been revealed.

By Richard Smith

DISGRACED peer Jeffrey Archer used to visit Aldeburgh for Sunday lunch while he was staying in an open prison in East Anglia, it has been revealed.

The 63-year-old millionaire swopped prison food for high-class cuisine in the upmarket seaside resort, where he was spotted lunching and walking by the sea during his permitted outings from Hollesley Bay open prison.

Archer was allowed out two Sundays a month during his nine-month stay at the category D prison near Woodbridge - and Aldeburgh and Hollesley residents told yesterday how they had seen him enjoying himself away from the jail.


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Donald Wilson, a former Aldeburgh mayor, said he had seen Archer earlier this year.

“I saw him when he had been lunching at Café 152 and I happened to be in the High Street just by, and somebody said that was him,” he recalled.

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“He was walking out with a male friend to look at the sea. The word is that he has been seen on more than one occasion.”

It is understood Archer visited Aldeburgh with one of his two sons. The restaurant was unavailable for comment yesterday.

A Prison Service spokesman said inmates in an open jail were allowed to visit their homes, towns or other agreed places as part of their resettlement process. He added a risk assessment was undertaken and then a licence would be drawn up to give permission for a prisoner to leave a jail on day release.

One Hollesley mother, who said she had seen Archer in Aldeburgh, cycled yesterday into the prison grounds with her young daughter and their dog to take photographs of Archer as he left Hollesley Bay.

But the family mistimed their trip and Archer had already swept away in a BMW driven by one of his sons, William, 31, at 8.17am.

William Archer had given a V for Victory sign as he arrived at the jail, but by contrast his father was grim-faced as the pair left without stopping to make a comment.

The mother, who declined to be named, said she had wanted to see history being made and she was disappointed to have missed his release.

She added people in Aldeburgh had been “irritated” to see the former Conservative Party chairman having a good time in their town.

The woman, who lives close to the prison, said: “The locals here are glad to get rid of him and now we can be left as a sleepy backwater again.”

Archer's release on parole after residing in five different jails was also a relief for Hollesley's prison officers.

They described his departure as “heaven” and said life at the jail could now return to normal.

However, sources described Archer as a “model prisoner” while he was at Hollesley Bay and added he had obeyed regulations.

A few inmates stood outside the Works Department at the prison yesterday to give him a send-off. One prisoner said: “We are sorry to see him go. He was very popular with all the other inmates.”

Up to 50 members of the national and regional media gathered to watch Archer leave prison, with some photographers having spent days camping out to picture his last few days in jail.

Woodbridge police marshalled the media circus and prison officers, some of whom had been on duty since 4am, stopped journalists straying onto private land.

As Archer departed, a Woodbridge fire engine came through the prison after rescuing a deer stuck in a swimming pool in Rectory Road, Hollesley.

But it was the transformation of prisoner FF8282 into Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare that made the bigger splash.

richard.smith@eadt.co.uk

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