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Jonathan Aitken: Andy Coulson will be a well-liked and well-respected member of the fraternity of the fallen

Former Tory cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken. Credit: John Stillwell/PA Archive

Jonathan Aitken is a former Conservative MP who served in Sir John Major's cabinet as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. In 1999, he pleaded guilty to charges of perjury and spent seven months in prison.

Writing for ITV News, he gives his views on Andy Coulson, who is set for his first night in prison after being found guilty of conspiring to hack phones.

His views do not necessarily reflect those of ITV News.

Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson outside the Old Bailey. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

By Jonathan Aitken

I have great respect for Andy Coulson because he is a strong, stoical and dignified character of some personal courage and these are qualities which will enable him to survive well in prison.

From my own experience, I know that prison is a cultural shock to anyone.

However, there's no reason why a high-profile prisoner would have any special problems providing he does not give himself any airs or graces, keeps his head down, goes with the flow in prison and accepts there is nothing special about himself.

From what I know of Andy Coulson, he will be wise enough to do all of these things.

He has nothing to fear from life on the wing and my forecast is that unless he is extremely unlucky in who his companions are, he will be treated with respect and will have no problems.

Jonathan Aitken leaving Elmley prison in 2000. Credit: Fiona Hanson/PA Archive

Prison for any newcomer is a sharp learning curve. Just like any unusual community, it has its own language, its own customs and its own culture but an intelligent person will quickly blend into the background and be accepted.

Before I went to prison, the media was full of slightly terrifying predictions about how badly I would be treated and what an awful time I would have.

None of which was true, I got along well with fellow inmates.

Andy Coulson will have the street smarts and willingness to blend into the culture and as a result will have an easy prison journey.

Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson. Credit: Ian West/PA Wire

He will discover that life in a prison wing is vibrant, humorous and above all human.

Andy’s background and his ability to get on well with all sorts and conditions of men will probably make him a well-liked and well respected member of the fraternity of the fallen.

I have already wished him well in private communications. I am confident he will serve his sentence with resilience and strength

Jonathan Aitken's views do not necessarily reflect those of ITV News.

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