The first night was the worst

Dhe first night in the new arrivals cell was probably the worst of Boris Becker’s life. Former Conservative minister Jonathan Aitken suspected as much after the tennis legend was sentenced to two and a half years in prison. Aitken knows what he’s talking about. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 1999 for perjury. The former politician, who served eight months in three prisons and was later ordained an Anglican minister, now speaks out on the radio, however, painting a less dramatic picture of what awaits Becker behind bars than many British newspapers. These relate to a damning report by Her Majesty’s Inspector General of Prisons into the ‘ruined, overcrowded and vermin-infested’ Victorian prison in Wandsworth, south London, where Becker is being held – pending a possible transfer in a less severe prison. Drug addiction and mental illness are rampant in the country’s largest prison, according to the assessment released in January. The prisoners are bored to death. The inspector pointed out a prisoner who walked out blinking – because it was the first time he had been out in over a week.

Gina Thomas

Features correspondent based in London.

Boris Becker, convicted of breaching UK bankruptcy law, was driven five miles from court in Wandsworth in a white jail car on Friday after his sentencing. Her partner could only throw her a kiss in the courtroom in the glass booth, in which Becker took note of the judge’s decision. The fallen star had obviously expected a prison sentence after the guilty verdict handed down three weeks earlier. In recent days, Becker, who had been declared bankrupt, had been seen at large at the luxury department store Harrods. He had left the store with a tote he had with him in court. You could buy a bag like this anywhere, but Becker chose Harrods. This prompted The Times to comment that “the ’80s prodigy who had gone head to head with fame and fortune still looks like an overgrown kid in a candy store”.

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