Saturday, November 27, 2010

Losing his TV set: The price Archer will pay for GBP300,000.

mounted Archer 20, originally uploaded by dougjimison.

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JEFFREY ARCHER is expected to escape any severe punishment for publishing his controversial prison diary, which is likely to net him at least GBP300,000.

Last night, as calls mounted for Lord Archer to be dealt with harshly for trying to make money from his life inside, Prison Service sources revealed that even if he is found to have broken the rules, he will, at most, spend time in solitary confinement and lose his TV set.

The Mail on Sunday has learned that, far from smuggling the manuscript out of North Sea Camp open prison in Lincolnshire, the 62-yearold millionaire author simply put the account of his three weeks in the 'hell hole' of London's Belmarsh prison in the post to his publishers.

The book will be serialised from tomorrow in the Daily Mail.

Richard Charkin, chief executive of publishers Macmillan, said: ' Stories of Jeffrey smuggling out manuscripts are nonsense. He simply posted them. He didn't avoid censorship - there wasn't any. Nobody asked him anything about it.' Mr Charkin revealed that many of the names of prisoners mentionedin the diaries had been changed to protect their identities and prevent Archer being punished under Home Office guidance which says: 'Prisoners are not allowed to profit from, or identify, prisoners or prison staff.' Had prison authorities wanted to censor Archer's book in any way the governor could simply have instructed his staff to check the peer's outgoing post.

Letters and phone calls to or from the prison can be read, listened to, stopped, recorded or examined by the governor, or his officers.

Archer's book, A Prison Diary - Belmarsh: Hell, is a 70,000-word chronicle detailing his first 21 days at the top-security prison in South London. It names Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs and Jill Dando's killer Barry George and is due to be published this Thursday.

Archer had succeeded in getting six convicts at the North Sea Camp to sign away their legal rights so he could put them in his diaries, it was reported last night.

The shrewd move was first revealed by The Mail on Sunday six months ago when we told how he had persuaded inmates to allow him to name them in his book and asked them to sign contracts.

It has emerged that Archer could well be in need of the money from book sales. Sources close to the family say that he and his wife Mary have cash-flow problems, despite their apparent wealth.

Last week Archer paid out about GBP2.7 million in an out-of-court settlement to Express Newspapers from whom he won GBP500,000 libel damages over a Daily Star story that he slept with a prostitute.

Last night, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman Simon Hughes criticised the way the Prison Service had handled Archer's time in jail.

The disgraced peer has enjoyed lavish lunches with prison staff and off-duty police officers and used weekend home leave to attend a champagne party at the home of former-Tory Cabinet Minister Gillian Shephard. After these breaches of prison rules he was transferred to high-security Lincoln Prison.

Mr Hughes said: 'They have given Lord Archer too much rope. It does not look as if they are in control.' Martin Narey, Director General of the Prison Service, said last night that he was taking legal advice on whether Lord Archer had broken any rules.

He said: 'If the behaviour is considered very serious it could lead to him having days added to his sentence.' Under Prison Rule 55, Archer could have seven weeks added to his sentence, forfeit a maximum of 42 days of privileges, be excluded from work details for 21 days and lose up to 42 days' earnings.

But last night a senior Prison Service insider revealed: 'This is not going to happen. It is more likely to be withdrawal of association, no home visits, or having his TV taken away.' Frances Crook, director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: 'In general, anyone should have the right to free speech and free expression.' But John Cryer, Labour MP for Hornchurch, said he would table a motion condemning publication.

Source Citation
"Losing his TV set: The price Archer will pay for GBP300,000." Europe Intelligence Wire 6 Oct. 2002. General OneFile. Web. 27 Nov. 2010.
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