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Monday, September 14, 1998 Published at 08:13 GMT 09:13 UK


Fry aids ex-offenders

Stephen Fry (left) and comedy partner Hugh Laurie

Funny man Stephen Fry is making use of his youthful brush with crime, in his new role as founding director of a new association of ex-offenders.

The 40-year-old actor, writer and comedian was remanded in youth detention as a teenager after a spree with a stolen credit card.

Welcoming his appointment, Unlock chairman Mark Leech said: "I am absolutely delighted that Stephen Fry has joined Unlock. He is a classic example of how apparent failure can, with effort, be turned into success."

Unlock, the national association of ex-offenders, will be formally launched at Pentonville Prison in north London next Tuesday.

Cambridge scholarship

Fry, the star of Wilde and about to launch a BBC Radio 4 show, stole a family friend's credit card and booked in at the Ritz when he was 18.

Once arrested, he spent a period on remand in Pucklechurch, near Bristol, before he was sentenced to two years' probation.

His determination to pull himself together and eventual scholarship to Cambridge is documented in his recent autobiography Moab Is My Washpot.

Speaking of his new role, the actor said: "Many people have a simplistic approach to crime and its causes, but the situation is often more complex than it appears.

"I believe Unlock is an excellent organisation, much needed and long overdue.

"I am delighted to be part of it and have great hopes for its future."

Mr Leech added: "Stephen represents an excellent role model for those currently in custody who desperately want to leave their life of crime behind."

In Wilde, Fry portrayed the broken Oscar Wilde in Reading Jail.

He also famously fled his role in stage play Cell Mates three years ago because he was battling depression.

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