Jailed Guppy in leave furore

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The Independent Online
THE Home Office was accused last night of aiding the Tory party by ensuring that Darius Guppy, the old Etonian jailed for fraud, had a day's leave postponed for the duration of the Bournemouth conference.

Guppy was looking forward to seeing his wife, Patricia, last Tuesday after being granted permission to leave his cell at Ford open prison near Arundel, Sussex on 'town leave', writes Jason Bennetto.

The couple intended to go to nearby Worthing or Yapton. There were no plans to join the Tory faithful at Bournemouth.

But his legal representatives believe that the prospect of Guppy being pictured out enjoying himself during the conference may have alarmed the Conservative Party's spin doctors.

Guppy was told about 10 days ago that his leave would be on Tuesday. But at 3pm on Monday he was informed by the prison governor that his trip had been postponed for a week. The reason, he was told unofficially by prison authorities, was to avoid any possible 'embarrassment' to the Tories.

John Wadham, the legal director of Liberty, the National Council for Civil Liberties, said: 'It's outrageous that an individual has had his leave tampered with in order to save the Home Secretary's face. This decision was clearly made for party political reasons - it's a disgraceful abuse of power.'

Guppy, 29, who was the best man to the Princess of Wales's brother, Earl Spencer, was jailed in February last year for defrauding Lloyd's insurers of pounds 1.8m after making a claim for a bogus jewels robbery.

Tasneem Afzal, his solicitor, said: 'The Home Office is afraid of what the press might print about him being allowed out of jail.'

A spokeswoman for the Prison Service denied Guppy's leave had been postponed to avoid clashing with the Tory conference.

She said: 'A lot of cases are being reviewed at the moment because of the sensitivity surrounding home leave.'

(Photograph omitted)

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