Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Huhne and Pryce begin jail terms

Chris Huhne leaves Southwark Crown Court, London
Chris Huhne has been given an eight-month prison term over a speeding points scandal
Vicky Pryce has been sentenced to eight months in jail for perverting the course of justice

Disgraced Cabinet minister Chris Huhne and his ex-wife are waking up behind bars after they were each jailed for eight months.

The start of their sentences come exactly a decade since the speeding offence that led to their downfall.

Huhne and Pryce were on Monday handed eight-month sentence at Southwark Crown Court for perverting the course of justice when Pryce took speeding points for Huhne in 2003.

Sentencing, Mr Justice Sweeney said Huhne had fallen from a "great height", and Pryce from a "considerable height".

Economist Pryce, 60, was convicted after a retrial last week, while Huhne, 58, pleaded guilty on the first day of his trial last month after denying the offence for nearly two years.

The former energy secretary, who once had ambitions for the Lib Dem leadership, has become the first former Cabinet minister since Jonathan Aitken to be jailed.

He is also facing a hefty legal bill as the Crown Prosecution Service is pursuing £79,015 for the cost of his prosecution, plus an extra £31,000 incurred by his efforts to get the case thrown out.

A costs hearing for Huhne and Pryce - whose prosecution cost £38,544 - is due to take place at a later date.

Prime Minister David Cameron said the sentence was a reminder that no-one, however powerful, is above the law, while Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg dubbed Huhne's downfall a "personal tragedy".

Huhne himself apologised publicly, conducting several interviews ahead of his arrival at prison. He told the Guardian he should have owned up, adding: "Lawmakers can be many things, but they cannot be lawbreakers."

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