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 Friday, 3 January, 2003, 12:15 GMT
Archer demands jail apology
Lord Archer
Archer was jailed for four years for perjury
Lord Archer is demanding an apology over what he claims is the "unfair" and "grossly disproportionate" treatment he has received at the hands of prison authorities.

I was put in segregation, stripped, made to wear a red tracksuit and locked into a small isolation cell with a mattress on the floor

Lord Archer
In a 44-page formal complaint, the disgraced peer allegedly claims to have been "singled out unfairly for harsh and punitive treatment" for attending a drinks party while on home leave from open prison.

Archer, who has served 18 months of a four year sentence for perjury, was placed in segregation and transferred to a closed prison following the incident.

The millionaire author claims to have been "baffled and horror struck" by the punishment, according to the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

'Model prisoner'

He says he did not realise he was breaking prison rules, which require prisoners to remain within a specified area while on home leave.

The 62-year-old said he had been a "model prisoner" and had enjoyed several home visits before attending the party at the home of Conservative MP Gillian Shepherd.

Although wine was served at the lunch, Archer says he did not break prison rules by drinking.

Mrs Shepherd's home was closer to North Sea Camp prison than his own, Archer claims.

Also, he adds, nowhere in prison rules does it say inmates must remain at their own homes while on leave.

If he had known, Archer says, he would have asked the authorities for permission.

'Compelling evidence'

Other inmates had committed worse breaches of prison rules without punishment, Archer adds.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Archer sets out "compelling evidence" of ill-treatment in a formal complaint document.

"I was put in segregation, stripped, made to wear a red tracksuit and locked into a small isolation cell with a mattress on the floor.

"I spent nearly all of the next 17 hours in that cell, becoming very depressed," he reportedly writes.

'Personal attacks'

Archer also accuses prison service director Martin Narey of launching "unwarranted personal attacks" on him in the media.

Speaking on BBC 2's Newsnight, Mr Narey said it was not acceptable for Archer to "swan around the country wherever he wants and go to parties whether or not he has been drinking".

Archer claims Mr Narey's comments could affect his chances of gaining parole, for which he is eligible from 19 July this year.

Highly unusual

The former Tory peer is demanding an apology from the prison service and Mr Narey.

The basis of Archer's formal complaint is that no disciplinary charge has been laid against him.

He claims it is highly unusual for an inmate to be transferred to a closed prison without such a charge being laid.

The authorities were informed about Archer's alleged indiscretion by the Sun newspaper.

Locked in cell

Archer was reportedly upset at being forced to spend New Year behind bars.

He was not eligible for temporary release on licence over the celebration.

Archer, who spent Christmas Day at Hollesley Bay prison in Suffolk, was understood to have spent most of the day locked in his cell.

Archer is ineligible for trips home during the week and can only take a release on two weekend days each month.

He celebrated Christmas three days early with his family at home in Grantchester, Cambridgeshire.

Archer's latest novel, Sons of Fortune, which was written behind bars, was featured among the Christmas bestseller lists.


Click here to go to Cambridgeshire
See also:

27 Dec 02 | England
18 Dec 02 | England
13 Dec 02 | Politics
09 Sep 02 | Politics
09 Jan 02 | Politics
19 Aug 02 | England
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