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Jonathan Aitken
"We were in a fraternity of the fallen"
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Sunday, 26 March, 2000, 11:19 GMT
Sorry Aitken's rough prison test
Aitken and Frost
Jonathan Aitken tells David Frost of his time in jail
Disgraced former cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken has told of the shocks he encountered when he was sent to jail.

In his first interview since being released from Standford Hill Open Prison, Mr Aitken said being put behind bars had been a rough test.

And he felt he was in a "fraternity of the fallen", as he believed there was no distinction between himself, a perjurer, and other criminals including murderers.

Mr Aitken was speaking on the BBC's Breakfast With Frost programme, where he admitted he had prepared himself spiritually and physically for jail - although there were still shocks.

He told David Frost: "I accepted my own total guilt and accepted I had to go to prison.

We were all criminals, we had all sinned. We were all in a fraternity of the fallen

Jonathan Aitken
"Even so, there were some shocks on the first day. The receiving into prison, the strip-search, the new language, the anxieties. It was a rough test."

Mr Aitken said he did not judge the other prisoners as "we were all on the floor together".

"I felt on exactly the same level as all of them.

"We were all criminals, we had all sinned. We were all in a fraternity of the fallen," he said.

Mr Aitken was jailed for 18 months in June 1999 for perjury and perverting the course of justice.

He had admitted both charges following the collapse of his libel case against The Guardian and World in Action.

Aitken: "I lied and I'm sorry."
The judge told Mr Aitken he had spun a "web of deceit" from which he had not been prepared to escape by telling the truth.

Mr Aitken now admits he lied and said he was sorry. He also said the court case was "ultimately for his own good".

He said: "It was a big lie. I have acknowledged it.

"I lied and I am sorry about it."

Mr Aitken said he believed he was still a member of the Conservative Party but would resign if asked to.

Public role

He was not upset that his potentially huge political career was cut short, adding he felt more of a "deep sadness for the people he loved and let down".

However, a role in public life would interest him in the future.

"I have got no plans. However I would like some form of public life with a Christian, spiritual dimension."

His book about his dramatic downfall, Pride and Perjury, is due to be published soon.

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See also:

07 Jan 00 | UK Politics
Aitken to be set free
25 Dec 99 | UK Politics
Christmas mass for Aitken and family
08 Jun 99 | UK Politics
Aitken: A glittering career cut short
08 Jun 99 | UK Politics
Jail sentence for Aitken
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