Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Pryce 'had real choice' over points

Vicky Pryce could not be reduced to a 'quivering jelly', a prosecutor claimed

Chris Huhne's ex-wife was "one of the most powerful, talented, intelligent and trusted women in the country" and would not have been forced into taking his speeding points, a court has heard.

Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC said Vicky Pryce had taken points for Huhne in 2003 because she chose to do so, not because she was coerced and she was not someone who could be reduced to a "quivering jelly".

Pryce denies perverting the course of justice, using a rare defence of marital coercion, at Southwark Crown Court. Her trial has heard she claimed Huhne first nominated her to take the points so he could avoid losing his licence, and then stood in their hallway waving a pen at her demanding that she sign a form confirming it was her.

Pryce, 60, of Crescent Grove, Clapham, south London, leaked the scandal to newspapers in 2011, after Huhne left her the previous year for PR adviser Carina Trimingham, in a bid to "nail" him, the court has heard.

In his closing speech, Mr Edis said: "The position is this. One of the most powerful, talented, intelligent and trusted women in the country wishes you to think that when she took some points for her husband in 2003 she had no real choice in doing so. It is the prosecution's function, if they can, to disprove that before she can be convicted.

"There's no doubt that she took his points, there's no doubt that that's a crime. It's only not a crime in her case if the special defence available to wives - marital coercion - applies in her case and it applies in her case if the prosecution fail to make you sure of two things.

"First, that the offence was committed voluntarily, that is to say, she had choices available to her. He may have been trying to pressure her, he may have wanted her to do as she did, he may have been very persuasive, but that isn't what this case is actually about.

"The question is whether he was able, by things that he did or said, to induce in this woman a state of mind whereby she no longer was able to exercise a free choice about what she did. That is not just deciding to do something for an easy life against your better judgment which you would rather not do, because we all do that a lot of the time, not necessarily commit crimes."

Pryce has claimed she was forced into constantly compromising her own career so Huhne could pursue his, and told the court he twice tried to bully her into having an abortion - successfully in 1990, but she resisted two years later.

But Mr Edis said suggesting Pryce was someone deprived of choice was to "stop living in the real world", adding: "If she can't choose what she is doing, who on earth can? If she was 20 years old, with no independent income, children who were dependent on her husband's income and if she was habitually bullied and threatened and put in fear, well you might think that such a person would deserve the special treatment that wives in our law are given. But not her."

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