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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Archer Freed After 2 Years in Prison

WOODBRIDGE, England -- British novelist and disgraced politician Jeffrey Archer was freed on parole Monday after serving half of a four-year jail sentence for lying in a libel case over a prostitute.

Archer, whose pacy thrillers are a staple of airport bookshops around the world, welcomed an end to "this unhappy period in [his] life" in a statement issued just before his release.

A senior Conservative Party politician when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister, Archer was later made a lord.

He was convicted for perjury and for perverting the course of justice, and jailed in 2001 after lying in a libel trial against a newspaper that said he had had sex with a prostitute.

He was driven away from Hollesley Bay open prison in the southern county of Suffolk by one of his sons Monday morning.

Photographers were staking out both his country house in nearby Grantchester -- once home to the war poet Rupert Brooke -- and his penthouse on London's River Thames to try to catch a shot of the former prisoner arriving home.

The perjury case destroyed Archer's political career and severely embarrassed the opposition Conservative Party.

The 63-year-old millionaire -- who made his fortune from bestsellers like "Honour Among Thieves" and "Kane and Abel" -- will now try to rebuild his reputation.

Friends say Archer plans to campaign for prison reform, and will resume writing rather than returning to politics.

"I don't think he has a political life ahead of him, but he does not need to have one," his friend Gyles Brandreth, a former lawmaker, told the Independent newspaper.

"He can be a very successful and popular novelist."

In the pre-release statement, Archer praised his wife Mary, who stood by him throughout the scandal.

"I want to thank my wife Mary and my sons, William and James, for their unwavering and unstinting support during this unhappy period in my life," he said.

Archer also said he would be making a public speech on prison life to a charity later this year.