Disgraced Tory Aitken returns to study prisons

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LONDON, Nov 11 (Reuters) Disgraced former Conservative cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken, who was jailed for perjury, will return to public life by leading a study into prison reform for a social policy think-tank linked to the party.

Aitken has been named to lead the prisons study for the Centre for Social Justice, run by former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, the centre said.

''Iain Duncan Smith thought that Jonathan Aitken is the right man for the job,'' CSJ spokesman Nick Wood said. ''People chairing or running policy groups ideally should be people with direct experience of the issues they are writing about.

''He's obviously a man of some intellect and some talent.

Yes, he fell from grace and he paid the price and he went to prison. He has written very eloquently about prison. He's been talking and writing about this subject for the last five years.'' Aitken, 65, was jailed for perjury in 1999 after lying in a libel action he brought against the Guardian newspaper.

His new role at the CSJ was revealed in the Observer, the Guardian's Sunday sister paper.

''It is a cause dear to my heart,'' he told the Observer. ''It is an assignment well worth taking extremely seriously. This isn't an ego trip for me. This is a job to be done.'' REUTERS SBC HT2124

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