Page last updated at 13:17 GMT, Monday, 22 September 2003 14:17 UK

Lord Archer freed from prison

Archer kisses wife Mary after arriving home
Archer was reunited with his wife at home
Disgraced peer Lord Archer has been released from jail after serving half of his four-year sentence.

He left Hollesley Bay open prison near Woodbridge, Suffolk, about 0815 BST on Monday, two years after being jailed for perjury and perverting the course of justice.

Wearing a blue shirt, and said to be frowning as he passed the scrum of journalists gathered at the jail, Archer was driven away in his son's BMW, followed by cameramen on motorcycles.

He arrived at his 1.5m home in Grantchester, Cambridgeshire, about 0955 BST and was reunited with his smiling wife, Mary. The pair posed for photographs for the waiting media scrum, before heading into their house arm-in-arm.

There were no obvious preparations at the house for a party to mark Archer's release.

Archer was later driven to his luxurious London penthouse flat by son William, arriving at 1337 BST.

I can see those paparazzi flashing away in vain,
I can see Jeffrey waving goodbye,
God it looks like Jeffrey might have a teardrop in his eye

The Seven Deadly Sins
Hollesley Bay Prison band

Archer did not speak to the press, instead hurrying into the block past two policemen.

An hour later, the peer travelled to meet his parole officer in Stockwell, near Brixton, south London.

There he was in trouble again as the BMW his son was driving was left parked illegally on a red line, before police asked that it be moved.

Local Labour councillor Donatus Anyanwa, who had informed on the Archer car, said: "This is illegal. It's antisocial."

But Mr Anyanwa said he hoped Archer would gain from his parole experience in south London.

"I hope it's a learning experience for him. I hope he'll understand that Brixton has a lot to offer."

Archer eventually emerged from the meeting with his parole officer about 1550 BST and amde his way through the crowd of journalists outside the building.

HAVE YOUR SAY
I cannot help but admire Lord Archer for his ability to bounce back
Nicholas J. Rogers, UK

The jury at his trial found the novelist had lied under oath during his 1987 libel case against the Daily Star over allegations he had had sex with a prostitute.

On the eve of his release, the disgraced peer thanked his family and members of the public for their support during his imprisonment.

He is waiting to discover whether he will keep the right to sit in the House of Lords after calls for rules changes relating to convicted criminals.

The government is being asked to close a loophole allowing peers who have been convicted of a criminal charge and jailed for more than a year to resume their seats.

Archer must live in premises approved by his supervisor.

Archer, 63, is understood to have requested his multi-million pound London address to be registered as his home, although he will also want to be able to spend time at his residence in Grantchester, where his wife normally lives.

Penal reform

In Archer's statement on Sunday night, he said: "I want to thank my wife Mary and my sons, William and James, for their unwavering and unstinting support during this unhappy period in my life.

"I should also like to thank the many friends who took the trouble to visit me in prison, as well as countless members of the public who sent letters, cards and gifts."

Archer leaves prison
Archer left prison in a BMW driven by his son
While he said he would not be giving interviews in the "foreseeable future," Archer confirmed he would be addressing the Howard League for Penal Reform's conference at New College Oxford in September.

He also said he had accepted several requests to do charity auctions in the run-up to Christmas.

Under his conditions of release, the former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party will be under probation supervision for one year.

He will remain on licence for a further 12 months until the end of his four-year sentence, but will not be the subject of supervision, Napo said.

Contact with his parole officer must be weekly for the first four weeks, including a home visit in the first 10 days.

Parole contact will become fortnightly and then monthly in the fourth month of his freedom.



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The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
"Standing by him yet again"



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