Archer out next month on maximum possible parole

Jeffrey Archer, the disgraced former Tory deputy chairman, is to be freed after being granted the maximum possible parole. He will be released from Hollesley Bay open prison in Suffolk on 19 July, having served two years of a four-year term for perjury.

The Parole Board approved the release yesterday after judging he posed no risk to the public or of reoffending. The board did not punish Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare for having a lunch with a prison official and a police officer when he should have been working at a theatre.

His parole dictates he must stay in regular touch with his supervisor for a year and can leave the country only under exceptional circumstances.

Mark Leech, founder of the former offenders' charity Unlock, said he was astonished. "No other prisoner in that position would have been treated in such a favourable way," he said. "The old boys' network seems to be alive and well at the Home Office."

But Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of the probation officers' union Napo, said: "Under all the circumstances in this case, this decision is justifiable."