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Monday, 19 August, 2002, 13:03 GMT 14:03 UK
Archer starts theatre job
Jeffrey Archer
The country's media greeted Lord Archer in Lincoln
Jeffrey Archer has started work behind the scenes at a theatre while on day release from prison.

The disgraced peer will be employed five days a week for the Theatre Royal in Lincoln.

He will be paid for his work and return for the night to the North Sea Camp open prison near Boston in Lincolnshire.

It has also been reported the multi-millionaire novelist will be allowed to spend every Sunday with his family at his home in Grantchester in Cambridgeshire.

'Wrong message'

Archer, who drove himself to the theatre in his BMW, declined to comment on his new job except to say good morning to reporters and onlookers.

The 62-year-old former Conservative party deputy chairman has served 12 months of a four-year prison sentence for perjury.

Theatre owner Chris Marino said the former MP for Louth would be working at Theatre House, a theatrical organisation on Clasketgate in Lincoln.

He said the prisoner will be working on community and charity projects within a theatrical environment.

Big Brother's infamous "Nasty Nick", who was walking past when Archer arrived, said children would get the wrong message.

Libel trial

Nick Bateman, 34, who lives in Lincoln and used to work at Theatre Royal, said: "I think it is really great for Lincoln. But it shows kids that crime does pay."

Workers at an amusement arcade across the road from the theatre were not impressed with Archer's new job.

Lincoln workers
Some think Archer is "taking the mickey"
One woman said: "I think it is disgusting, if it was anyone else off the street we wouldn't get treated like that."

Another said: "I'm all for rehabilitation but this is taking the mickey."

Archer was said to have enjoyed his first home visit on 8 August when he spent the day with wife Mary and sons James, 28, and William, 29.

A Prison Service spokeswoman said she could not comment on individual cases.

"All prisoners get to a stage in their sentence where they will become eligible for home visits and this is all part of the resettlement process."

Archer was sentenced last July after being found guilty of perjury and perverting the course of justice at a libel trial against the Daily Star over allegations about his private life.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Peter Lane
"Back in the open, back in front of the cameras"

click here to go to Lincolnshire

Click here to go to Cambridgeshire
See also:

15 Aug 02 | England
13 Aug 02 | Entertainment
22 Jul 02 | England
19 Jul 01 | UK
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