Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Huhne ex-wife denies justice charge

Chris Huhne stood down from Cabinet to fight the charge that he wrongly claimed his wife was driving his car
Vicky Pryce was released on unconditional bail after denying perverting the course of justice

Former energy secretary Chris Huhne's ex-wife has denied perverting the course of justice by taking a speeding penalty for her former husband.

Vicky Pryce pleaded not guilty at Southwark Crown Court, where she appeared alongside the former Cabinet minister.

Huhne, 57, did not enter a plea to a similar charge of perverting the course of justice.

His arraignment was adjourned for an application to dismiss the charge, the court heard.

It is alleged that Huhne, from Dutton Lane, Eastleigh, Hants, who wore a dark suit and maroon polka-dot tie, persuaded Pryce to take his penalty points for a speeding offence almost a decade ago.

His ex-wife's defence will be one of marital coercion. A provisional trial date has been set for October 2, due to last no more than two weeks.

Pryce, 59, from Crescent Grove, Clapham, south London, wore a beige linen jacket and a brown knee-length skirt, and was listed in court by her Greek forename Vasiliki. The former couple did not make eye contact with each other during the hearing.

Huhne, who remains the Lib Dem MP for Eastleigh in Hampshire, stood down from Cabinet to fight the charge that he wrongly claimed his wife was driving his car.

The events which led to the charges date back to March 2003, when Huhne's car was allegedly caught by a speed camera on the motorway between Stansted Airport in Essex and London. Accusations of impropriety emerged only in 2010, after the father of five admitted an affair with PR adviser Carina Trimingham and ended his 26-year marriage.

It is alleged that between March 12 2003 and May 21 2003, Pryce falsely informed police that she was the driver of the car, thereby accepting responsibility for the offence so Huhne could avoid prosecution. Both defendants were released on unconditional bail until a pre-trial hearing on a date to be fixed, probably next month.

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