Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Pryce 'cooked up' coercion defence

Vicky Pryce is accused of perverting the course of justice

The ex-wife of disgraced former MP Chris Huhne "cooked up" her defence and took his speeding points as "a quick fix to an inconvenient problem", a court has heard.

Vicky Pryce, 60, is accused of perverting the course of justice by taking the driving penalty points for her then-husband in 2003, so that he could avoid losing his licence after already totting up nine points.

After the couple split up, Pryce went to the press, initially to reveal only that someone in her family had taken the speeding points. In a 2011 story with the Sunday Times, she did not tell the political editor Isabel Oakeshott that Huhne stood over her with a pen and made her sign the declaration. Neither did she tell police when interviewed.

Her defence is that she was forced into taking the points by Huhne with him aggressively bullying her into it and warning her "of the consequences" if she did not.

But Andrew Edis QC, prosecuting at London's Southwark Crown Court, told her: "The reason you did not tell her is that you have made that up since part of a defence of marital coercion is a husband has to be there when the offence is committed. So that is why you have cooked up that for the first time after being prosecuted and never before."

Pryce, a leading economist, replied: "If there is one thing that I remember from this whole sorry affair it is him standing over me with the pen in his hand."

Huhne previously pleaded guilty to the same offence and has been warned he could face jail.

Pryce took the points as "a quick fix to an inconvenient problem", the barrister said. "Lying comes easy," said Mr Edis, which Pryce, of Crescent Grove, Clapham, south London, denied.

Pryce recorded phone conversations with Huhne in which she tried to get him to admit what had happened. She said she was "very, very ashamed of having done those things", adding: "I am not proud of those things or anything to do with the newspapers. But over that period I felt I had lost it, really."

She added she was stressed following the breakdown of their marriage in June 2010 as Huhne left for PR adviser Carina Trimingham, and she "wasn't thinking straight". The trial adjourned to Monday at 10.30am.