Lord Archer given jail release date

DISGRACED Tory Peer Lord Archer will be freed from a Suffolk jail next month after being granted parole at the earliest possible date.The Parole Board said Lord Archer who has served nearly two years of a four year sentence for perjury, will be granted parole from Saturday July 19.

DISGRACED Tory Peer Lord Archer will be freed from a Suffolk jail next month after being granted parole at the earliest possible date.

The Parole Board said Lord Archer who has served nearly two years of a four year sentence for perjury, will be granted parole from Saturday July 19.

It was understood that Lord Archer was likely to be released from Hollesley Bay open prison near Woodbridge on Monday July 21.

A spokesman for the Parole Board said: "Our job of risk assessment is now over. The details of release are now entirely a matter for the prison and probation services.


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"In considering any parole application, the board will take account of the seriousness of the offence which led to conviction and the risk of further offences during the parole period.

"The decision will be informed by reports from the prison and probation services regarding the offender's behaviour in prison and plans for release.

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"The length of possible time on parole may be a factor, as well as the benefit of a longer period of supervision in the community.

"The bottom line however of any Parole Board decision is the risk to the public of any further offence during the time when the offender would otherwise be in prison."

A three-member panel of the Parole Board met to consider Lord Archer's case yesterday.

Conservative Central Office declined to comment on the parole decision regarding the party's former deputy chairman.

Last September the peer - prisoner number FF8282 - was transferred from an open prison, North Sea Camp, to the tougher, medium security HMP Lincoln after it emerged he went to a party at the home of Conservative South Norfolk MP Gillian Shephard.

He claimed that he had been singled out unfairly for harsh and punitive treatment, and that he was unaware he had broken any prison rules.

Prison Service investigated claims that he had lunch with a prison officer and policewoman at an Italian restaurant in Lincoln while on work placement at the local theatre. The prison officer resigned over the incident but the policewoman kept her job.

There were also questions raised over whether Archer, who is worth an estimated £60 million, should have been allowed to publish and promote a book based on his prison diaries.

But within three weeks of it emerging that he had lunched with Mrs Shephard, Archer was back at another open jail, Hollesley Bay, dubbed "Holiday Bay' by some inmates because of its seaside location, relaxed regime and facilities.

Mike Lewis, former governor of North Sea Camp, said the inmate had been "condemned for actions that would be considered insignificant if carried out by other prisoners'.

Last October, Archer agreed a seven figure sum to settle his libel case debt with the Daily Star. He was reported to have agreed a payment in excess of £1.5 million in an out-of-court settlement to the owners of the newspaper he successfully sued for claiming he slept with a prostitute.

Archer, 63, agreed to pay back the original £500,000 damages won in the 1987 libel case plus the majority of the substantial legal recovery costs, Daily Star owners Express Newspapers said.

Mark Leech, founder of ex-offenders' charity Unlock and editor of the Prisons Handbook, said he was "astonished' by yesterday's decision.

"No other prisoner in that position would have been treated in such a favourable way. Favouritism has been a constant feature of his time inside - the 'Old Boys Network' seems to be alive and well at the Home Office.

"To be frank I am astonished that Lord Archer has been granted his first parole, given the fact that he breached his temporary release licence while on leave from North Sea Camp and was returned as a result to closed conditions.

"Be that as it may, I wish him well on his release.'

Assistant general secretary of probation union Napo, Harry Fletcher, thought moves to free Archer were fair.

"This decision seems justified in all the circumstances,' he said.

"The prime concern of the Parole Board is whether the individual poses a risk to the public, a risk of reoffending or a risk of physical or mental harm.'

Parole Board members will have considered probation reports and governor's comments and staff will have visited Archer's home to approve the property where he proposed to live for the rest of his sentence, said Mr Fletcher.

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