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Saturday, 28 September, 2002, 02:45 GMT 03:45 UK
Lady Archer 'sorry' for prison warder
Lady Archer and Lord Archer
Lord Archer was 'unaware of prison service rules'
The wife of jailed peer Lord Archer has said she is sorry a prison officer lost his job after having lunch with her husband and a female police officer.

Paul Hocking was head of security at the disgraced Conservative's former jail.


I am very, very sorry that a prison officer should have lost his livelihood over such an incident

Lady Archer
He stepped down because the meal at Zucchini's Italian restaurant in Lincoln while Lord Archer was on day release broke prison service rules governing staff contact with prisoners.

Police chiefs in Lincolnshire have ordered a separate inquiry into the unnamed police officer's presence at the same lunch date.

Lady Archer said: "Jeffrey is very gregarious and it does not surprise me at all that he would seek people to have lunch with.

"But for people to lose their livelihood over this, I think it is very sad."

Solitary confinement

Mr Hocking was based at North Sea Camp open prison, from where Lord Archer was allowed out to work at a theatre close to Zucchini's restaurant.

He is now being kept in solitary confinement in the higher classification Lincoln prison for committing a "serious breach of trust" by attending a party at the home of former Tory Cabinet minister Gillian Shephard.

The Prison Service has denied claims Lord Archer has been singled out for unusually harsh punishment.

What Archer ate
Top Zucchini's items include fillet steak at 15.95 and barbecue king prawns at 13.50
Italian specials include Pollo Prosciuto - breast of chicken in garlic white wine sauce
Also on the menu are pizza, spare ribs, vegetable soup and mussels
Deserts include chocolate pancakes and profiteroles
Earlier on Friday, when news of the lunch emerged, Lady Archer said it was unlikely her husband knew in advance of the prison service regulations.

"It is the prison officer who has contravened a regulation here, there is no reason why Jeffrey should know what prison service regulations are for prison officers."

A Prison Service spokesman said: "It is not permitted for serving prison officers to mix with prisoners outside the jail for anything but professional reasons and only with the permission of the governor."

Mr Hocking has a 30-year career in the service before rising to the rank of head of security at North Sea Camp.

Colleagues told the BBC that he should have known it was against the rules to have lunch with an inmate without permission.

And Brian Caton, of the Prison Officers' Association said: "For someone as experienced as he was, we find it strange."

The former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party was jailed for four years at the Old Bailey in July last year after being convicted of perjury and perverting the course of justice in relation to his 1987 libel trial against the Daily Star newspaper.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Mary Archer
"This has thrown a spotlight on what is perfectly normal for category D prisoners"
See also:

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

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