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Crime costs Archer place in cricket court

London, Oct. 27: Jeffrey Archer has been suspended as a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club for seven years.

Although the multi-millionaire novelist and former Tory Party chairman escaped expulsion, he will almost be 70 when he is allowed back into the MCC.

Archer, serving a four-year jail sentence, is believed to be the first member in modern times to be suspended from the MCC for criminal behaviour. The disgraced peer, convicted of perjury and perverting the course of justice, is aware of his suspension and is said to be “deeply disappointed”.

Chris Beetles, a close friend of Archer and an MCC member, said: “This is a vindictive judgment on a man who has been good for cricket and loves his cricket. It is highly unlikely to represent the views of the majority of cricket-loving MCC members.”

Several former English cricketers wrote letters of support for Archer, but a full committee meeting of the MCC last Wednesday voted, apparently by a majority of one to suspend him, after an initial vote that he should not be expelled.

The MCC is a private members’ club founded in 1787 to set up a cricket ground for noblemen of London. Within a year it laid down a code of rules for the game — a role it maintains to this day.

Archer, 62, wrote to the MCC before last week’s meeting, asking to be allowed to remain a member. He expressed his love and commitment to the game and the club. He has been involved in fund-raising on behalf of the MCC and county cricketers.

He was jailed in July 2001, over his 1987 libel case with the Daily Star, which accused him of having sex with Monica Coghlan, a prostitute. He is expected to be released in less than a year.

Nothing in the MCC's rules requires expulsion of a member who has been convicted of a crime, but members are required to uphold the good name of the club. The peer had already been expelled from the Lord’s Taverners Charity Cricket Club.

The MCC has 18,000 full members, and there is a waiting list of about 20 years. An MCC spokesman declined to comment on the suspension.

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