Jury to consider Pryce verdict
Published 18/02/2013 | 03:11
Jurors will continue considering their verdict in the trial of Chris Huhne's ex-wife.
Vicky Pryce is charged with perverting the course of justice by taking the disgraced politician's speeding points in 2003. The economist denies the charge, claiming she was coerced by Huhne so he could avoid losing his licence.
Huhne, 58, pleaded guilty to the offence on the first day of their trial, which prompted his resignation as an MP. Pryce's defence of marital coercion requires that Huhne was present when she signed the form agreeing to take the points, and that her will was "overborne". The jury at Southwark Crown Court have to decide whether the prosecution has proved that Huhne did not coerce Pryce, who is now 60.
The charges date back to 2003 when Huhne's BMW was clocked speeding on the way back from Stansted Airport. He already had nine points on his licence and faced a driving ban - something he thought would affect his chances of being nominated as the Lib Dem candidate for Eastleigh, Hampshire.
Pryce, who had a clean licence at the time, claims her then husband forced her to take the points, nominating her as the driver then making her sign a second form confirming her culpability.
The court heard he lost his licence anyway that year after being caught talking on his mobile phone while driving. But he was nominated as the candidate and went on to win Hampshire's Eastleigh seat in 2005.
The points-swapping allegations became public in May 2011 - a year after Huhne left Pryce for PR adviser Carina Trimingham, ending their 26-year marriage. Pryce spoke to journalists for several months before the story was published as she planned it, the court heard.
The prosecution claim she tried to "peddle" a false story to the Mail on Sunday in late 2010, claiming Huhne bullied a constituency aide into taking the points. When that did not work, she spoke to Sunday Times political editor Isabel Oakeshott in March 2011, planning to "nail" the politician and trying unsuccessfully to record him confessing.
The story ran in both newspapers on May 8 2011, sparking a police investigation and Huhne and Pryce were charged in February last year. The then energy secretary stepped down from the Cabinet, denying the charges. His lawyers tried to get the case thrown out but when that failed, Huhne dramatically changed his plea on the first day of trial, ending his political career.
Pryce, 60, of Crescent Grove, Clapham, south London, described how she was left fragile and broken by the revelation, leading her to leak the story to the newspapers. The jury of eight women and four men at Southwark Crown Court will continue deliberating at 10am.