Mark Thomas can't wait to hear Archer's freedom story

I can't wait to hear Archer's own version of how he gained his freedom, which will probably involve

It was only a matter of time before Jeffrey Archer was released or the prison service faced a legal challenge under the Human Rights Act for forcing other prisoners to put up with his interminable bollocks.

Surely, just to be in the immediate vicinity of Archer should be grounds enough for complaint. Personally, I can't wait to hear Archer's own version of how he regained freedom, which will probably not mention the probation service and probably will mention a maze of tunnels, a vaulting horse and hundreds of well-wishing prisoners emptying dirt from their trouser legs.

On hearing that he had given his penthouse apartment on the banks of the Thames as his permanent address for his probationary year, I was sorely tempted to hire a barge. Then book in a bevy of hookers (I am not sure if that is the correct collective noun) and a PA system, and moor opposite his flat to party, every now and then screaming at him through the loudspeakers: "Jeffrey, come and join us. It's all right, we've sorted out your alibi - you're having dinner with a mate."

My dislike of Archer is long-standing. Before his imprisonment, on every Poppy Day, Archer used to display an enormous, probably plastic, poppy about 20 feet tall on the balcony of his London flat. Like any publicly minded citizen, I phoned the Lambeth Council planning office and reported it as an unsafe structure, and tried to have them take it down.

At one stage I was in contact with the Biotic Baking Brigade, the anarcho pie-makers, and plans were afoot to pie him at a public event. In the end, he pulled out of the event and the pie had to be eaten.

It would be fair to say that I utterly loathe him. Yet in the current climate, there is something almost likeable about a politician who has done time in jail, compared to those who should be there but are not.

Attempts are being made to get Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Geoff Hoon investigated by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, though the chances of that happening are not high. They lie, it seems, in the forgiving arms of history and are beyond the law. Even so, Dr David Kelly's death may bring Blair his electoral retribution.

When news came of the death of Dr Kelly, the BBC bizarrely talked of the dodgy dossier claiming its first victim. Well, that isn't quite true. There is the small matter of the reported Iraqi civilian fatalities, who number between 6,071 and 7,780*. Not to mention the 151 US military personnel, nor the 40-plus British servicemen and women. Then there is the small issue of approximately 10,000 dead Iraqi conscripts. I can see little difference between those men and women and the British soldiers forced to fight in the First World War. Dr Kelly was not the first victim at all, but the one on whom the media focused. All these other lives lie shattered on the pages of deceit, on the story of attacks in 45 minutes, on the forged documents about Niger and uranium, and on the plagiarised, out-of-date student thesis.

On 18 March, the day parliament voted on bombing Iraq, one person amid those gothic ramparts did something to be proud of. Siobhan Vitelli, a researcher for Richard Younger-Ross, the Lib Dem MP for Teignbridge, copied out a quotation from Hermann Goering, from a statement made during the Nuremberg trials.

"Why, of course the people are against war. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger."

Vitelli duly e-mailed the quotation to every MP in parliament, on the very day they were to rubber-stamp an illegal, immoral and irresponsible war.

It is impossible to say how many MPs read the e-mail and reflected on the message. Some who did apparently did not appreciate Vitelli's efforts to help them contextualise their actions, as she learnt to her cost.

They replied in full-blown furious Colonel Blimp mode (thereby providing Vitelli with justification for sending them the quotation in the first place). For this heinous crime, she tells me, she has been "effectively threatened with summary dismissal and then charged with gross misconduct [and has] ended up negotiating voluntary redundancy".

* The figures are from the website and are correct at the time of writing. However, since these are only reported fatalities, the actual total is likely to be considerably higher

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