Archer's complaint hits the target

Does Lord Archer have a point in claiming that he's been unfairly treated by the prison service?Was his crime really on the same level as that of a serial burglar convicted of raiding hundreds of churches across Britain?

SITTING in his room (by all accounts it's hardly accurate to describe it as a cell) in Hollesley Bay, Lord Archer has written a 44-page complaint about his treatment following his lunch party with Gillian Shephard last year.

I wonder if it's a good read – or if it's plagiarised from another writer? Has he already sold the publication rights?

But seriously, doesn't he have a point in this case? Wasn't he unfairly singled out for special treatment by a prison service embarassed by the way they had been dealing with him?

As a low risk prisoner at North Sea Camp in Lincolnshire, Archer was assigned a job outside the as part of his rehabilitation programme – just like all the other inmates there.

However he is much richer than his fellow prisoners and he's clearly never been embarrassed by his wealth.

Therefore while other inmates used prison transport or the local bus service to get to their outside work, Archer was able to drive his BMW 7-series there.

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There's nothing in the rules to say he couldn't do that, but pictures of him rolling up for work in it were flashed across the newspapers and embarrassed the authorities.

During the work he – like all the other prisoners – was entitled to a lunch break.

While others might have been lucky to be able to afford a BLT from Sarnies R Us down the road, Archer was able to buy lunch in a posh Italian restaurant every day.

Again, there's nothing in the rules banning this so long as he didn't drink alcohol (which he didn't) – but again the authorities were embarassed.

Apparently a rule might have been bent when he shared lunch with a prison officer, but how did that really compromise security? Surely it made him more secure.

When it was revealed that he'd had lunch with Gillian Shephard, the authorities decided it gave them the opportunity they'd been looking for to end this.

But they went right over the top, sending him to the high-security Lincoln Prison before transferring him to Hollesley Bay.

As a convicted liar and cheat, there is no reason to believe his protestations that he didn't know he was breaking the rules.

But even if he did, his punishment was well over the top.

What did the authorities think he was doing with Mrs Shephard and other Tory bigwigs?

A stiff talk from the governor at North Sea Camp, and giving him a new job within its own grounds should have been enough.

But prison service bosses decided they had to make an example of him to hide their own embarrassment – and like him or not, that does seem totally unfair.

While on subject of Lord Archer. He's serving four years for perjury.

That's the same sentence that was imposed on Christopher Coulthard who raided 517 churches across England and Wales – including 32 in Suffolk.

He's got a police record stretching back 27 years.

Am I alone in thinking that something's wrong with one or both of those sentences?

SO Ipswich Council is considering move lock, stock and barrel to the half-built TXU building next to Portman Road.

What a good idea!

If that building is unoccupied for years the Ipswich Village project is going to be stillborn.

The area risks turning into a neglected ghetto like Greyfriars if the building is left unfinished while the harsh winds of recession blow in.

If the council moves in, it would occupy most of the building and bring the whole area to life.

Private money could then come in and take over Civic Centre – turning it into flats or demolishing it and starting again on the site.

There is an apparently insatiable demand for flats in Ipswich right now and, to quote council chief executive James Hehir, Civic Centre would be the idea place for them.

"You can see the whole town from here," he said standing in his 10th floor office. "Except Civic Centre," he added.

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