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Thursday, 26 September, 2002, 21:52 GMT 22:52 UK
Archer moved from open prison
Mary Archer and Jeffrey Archer
Dramatic change in circumstances for Lord Archer
Lord Archer has been moved from his open prison after breaking its rules by attending a lunch party during a home visit.

He was taken in a prison van to the closed Lincoln Prison from the North Sea Camp prison on Thursday afternoon.

Inside story
July 2001 - Sent to high security Belmarsh prison
August - Moved to Wayland prison in Norfolk
October - Moved to North Sea Camp open prison
July 2002 - Appeal refused
August - Signs new book deal and starts work at Lincoln theatre on day release
September - Moved to Lincoln jail

A Prison Service spokesman said: "He has admitted attending the party. Whilst we consider his future location he has been relocated to Lincoln Prison."

The move means the end of the greater freedom at the open prison which allowed home visits as well as time out to work at Lincoln's Theatre Royal.

His wife Mary, who had earlier said it would be "outrageous" for him to be moved, said she was angry about the decision and that her husband was ''extremely upset''.

Overcrowding

She said they had valued the privileges Lord Archer had been given, and any "technical infringement" of prison rules had been minor.

Lady Archer said her husband had also been to lunch with other friends, to the knowledge - she assumed - of the Prison Service.

Martin Narey
Narey: personally ''let down'' by Lord Archer

Lincolnshire police are also examining the movements of an off-duty policewoman after it was reported that she had lunch last week with Lord Archer.

A spokesman told BBC News Online that the matter had been referred to the force's professional standards unit.

The director general of the Prison Service, Martin Narey, said he felt the peer had "severely breached the trust put in him" and he felt "very let down that he has abused the chances he has been given".

Nevertheless, he said he thought Lord Archer would not spend very long in Lincoln Prison.

''We will probably move Lord Archer back to less secure conditions in due course,'' Mr Narey said.

''He may go back to an open prison - it's unlikely to be North Sea Camp,'' he told BBC Two's Newsnight.

BBC home affairs correspondent Margaret Gilmore said "the feeling in the Prison Service is that he did at times make them look silly".

Lady Archer maintained that she thought her husband was being treated less favourably than other prisoners in his category.

If Mr Narey thought otherwise, he was ''kidding himself''.

If Lord Archer does remain in Lincoln jail, Lady Archer will only be able to visit him once a month for half an hour, according to Mark Leech, editor of The Prisons Handbook.

Prisoners share cells and may possibly only be allowed out for two hours a day, while in the North Sea Camp, they have keys to their rooms.

In a critical report on prisons released only last week by the Prison Reform Trust, the Board of Visitors at Lincoln Prison said overcrowding was affecting prisoners and staff, with one wing in desperate need of refurbishment.

The board said prisoners were being locked in cells for too long.

Lunch party

Lord Archer, 62, had earlier been banned from leaving the open prison, where he had been serving a four-year sentence for perjury, while the Prison Service investigated the allegations.


I naturally assumed that the terms of Jeffrey's conditions to leave from prison permitted him to attend the event

Gillian Shephard
Party hostess

Lady Archer later confirmed that her husband had gone to the home of South West Norfolk MP Gillian Shephard without informing jail authorities.

Lady Archer said the event had been "a small lunch party at the home of a long-standing friend".

She added that it had taken place on the route back to the prison from their home - fulfilling the criteria of staying "within the locality" of the prison or the prisoner's home.

The best-selling author and former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party had not drunk any alcohol at the party and had thought he was within the rules because they remained within 55 miles of their home, she said.

Lord Archer's prison van
Lord Archer was moved by prison van

"He observes the rules punctiliously," Lady Archer said.

The only restriction on one fellow prisoner during home visits was "to stay within Lincolnshire" and Lady Archer said all she wanted was for her husband to get the same treatment as others.

Prisoners were able to go shopping and out to lunch and on picnics during their home leave, she added.

Lord Archer's wife, famously referred to as "fragrant" during his original libel trial in the 1980s, also attacked media intrusion.

"My car has been magnetically bugged and I have been chased," she said.

'Naturally assumed'

In a statement the lunch party host, ex-minister Mrs Shephard, said: "We gave a small party for friends at our home in Norfolk ten days ago. Mary and Jeffrey Archer were invited.

"When they accepted, I naturally assumed that the terms of Jeffrey's conditions to leave from prison permitted him to attend the event."

Lord Archer was jailed at the Old Bailey in July last year after being found guilty of perverting the course of justice and lying in his 1987 libel trial against the Daily Star newspaper.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"No special privileges tonight"
Jeffrey Archer's wife, Mary
"I'm not aware that he's broken any rule"
Biographer of Lord Archer Michael Crick
"He has exploited the system to its limits"
See also:

26 Sep 02 | UK
20 Aug 02 | UK
19 Aug 02 | England
13 Aug 02 | Entertainment
09 Jan 02 | Politics

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