Archer walks into further prison row

SHAMED peer Jeffrey Archer is today courting further controversy after he was allowed to leave a Suffolk prison and visit his home for the first time in nine weeks yesterday .

SHAMED peer Jeffrey Archer is today courting further controversy after he was allowed to leave a Suffolk prison and visit his home for the first time in nine weeks yesterday .

Fellow prison inmates were outraged as the wayward former Tory boss, 62, lost the privilege of spending Sundays out of jail in September when he broke Prison Service rules by attending a party given by former Tory education minister Gillian Shephard.

He was moved as a punishment from his "cushy" open prison to tough Lincoln Prison where he was locked up in his cell for 22 hours a day.

Archer was kept in the high security jail for three weeks until October 17 when he was sent to Hollesley Bay open prison set in 1,500 acres of grounds with sea views near Woodbridge.

New inmates at the Category D jail - nicknamed Holiday Bay by locals because of its easy-going regime - are usually expected to wait six weeks before being allowed home leave.

But the privilege was given to the multi millionaire novelist after five weeks and three days.

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One prisoner claimed: "I think it is an absolute disgrace that he is being allowed out so soon and it seems to be another example of the favourable treatment he is receiving from the prison system.

"Normally when prisoners do something wrong they lose all their home visits and it is virtually impossible to get them back again."

Archer's bearded son James, dressed casually in a white shirt and jeans, arrived to pick him up from the jail at 9.10 am yesterday.

James, 28, parked his father's R reg BMW 740 car in the jail car park and then hurried up the steps into administration block.

Former Tory party deputy chairman Archer walked into the building 15 minutes later to officially sign himself out for the day.

Archer, who was wearing his prison uniform of a grey sweatshirt and jeans with the bottoms turned up, clutched a pink sheaf of prison release forms as left the office with his son at 9.45am.

Archer then sat expressionless in the front passenger seat of the car as James drove him at speed down the 300 yard driveway of the jail.

The pair then drove the 70 miles back to Archer's historic home The Old Vicarage at Grantchester, near Cambridge. It is believed Archer was due to return to the prison by 7pm last night .

Another prisoner said: "Archer was really pleased when he found out he was being allowed home again. He told several inmates that he was delighted to be going home."

Archer works six days a week in the prison library at Hollesley Bay and has also been keeping himself busy writing his latest book about his time as an inmate.

He is still being held in the jail's induction unit Hoxon House which is a temporary home to all new inmates and some lifers.

Archer was jailed for four years at the Old Bailey in August last year for perjury and perverting the course of justice in his libel battle against a newspaper.

He was originally sent to tough Belmarsh Prison in south London and was later transferred to Wayland Prison near Watton, Norfolk.

Archer was then sent to North Sea Camp prison on the Lincolnshire coast.

He was allowed out of the jail daily to drive himself to Lincoln where he worked behind the scenes at the city's Theatre Royal.

Archer was able to drive himself home from the jail most weekends - but in September he attended a party with his wife Mary, 57, at Mrs Shephard's home in Northwold, Norfolk.

His attendance broke Prison Service rules as he had not sought permission from his prison governor to attend the event 35 miles from his home

Prison Service director general Martin Narey immediately ended Archer's home leave entitlement and his job, describing his behaviour as "a serious breach of trust".

Last night a Prison Service spokeswoman said: "In general terms, governors are able to consider prisoners for community visits if they earn them through good behaviour.

"They usually become eligible for the privilege after spending a month in an open prison - but procedures might vary slightly from prison to prison according to local procedures.

"All prisoners are fully risk-assessed and have to abide by licence conditions for visits which are set by their governor.

"We do not comment on individual cases."

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