Attorney General urged to consider longer jail terms for Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce

 

Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, was urged today to seek longer jail terms for Chris Huhne and his former wife Vicky Pryce by a Conservative MP who said their eight-month sentences were “unduly lenient.”

David Burrowes, a Parliamentary Private Secretary, has urged the Government's senior law officer in a letter to use his power to appeal against the sentence imposed on Huhne and Pryce for perverting the course of justice 10 years after their “points swapping” for a speeding offence committed by Huhne.  After studying previous cases, he said they should have both received jail terms of 12 months or more.

Huhne  and his partner Carina Trimingham denied newspaper reports about the way he has been treated at Wandsworth Prison since he began serving his sentence on Monday night. They denied he has he has been bullied or ridiculed by any prisoners or prison officers, or has been asked for money; that he has been moved, or asked to be moved, to a segregation wing for vulnerable prisoners and that  there was tannoy announcement calling him to breakfast. 

Mr Burrowes told The Independent that he believed  both Huhne and his ex-wife, a former senior government economist, should have received longer sentences. He said: “The offence strikes at the root of the criminal justice system. I don't believe the sentences reflect the seriousness of the issue, and the importance of upholding the integrity of the system. It was important not only that it was a custodial sentence but that it reflected the serious of it, particularly for someone who over a prolonged period of time lied and lied again and brought down his wife with him.”

The MP for Enfield Southgate said: “The sentence should reflect the public interest point of view that law-makers cannot be law-breakers and should also be law-respecters. There is also the issue of deterrence and the exemplary nature of sentences. They fell short of comparable cases and the facts of this case.”

Mr Burrowes believed Pryce as well as Huhne should receive a longer jail term. “I have more sympathy for Vicky Pryce. She was under some emotional pressure from Chris Huhne. But her defence of marital coercion was rejected as false. She was very much part and parcel of it, even though the focus was on Huhne.  Whilst there is sympathy for a personal and family tragedy, the reality is that they had positions with a high level of trust and responsibility and fundamentally broke the trust of the public they were serving.”

In a letter to the Attorney General, the Tory MP said the 10 per cent discount for Huhne's last-minute guilty plea appeared “generous” because of his “prolonged and persistent misleading conduct” over 10 years.

Mr Burrowes told Mr Grieve: “There is a concern that the sentence, particularly for Chris Huhne, was lenient compared to comparable cases involving people who were not politicians or in high profile positions. It is important that there is no substance for the perception of there being one rule for the rulers and another for the ruled.”

Robert Brown,  Pryce's solicitor, questioned whether she should have been treated as a victim rather than a defendant as he suggested an appeal was still being considered by her. He cautioned critics of the “marital coercion” defence that they could leave victims of domestic abuse defenceless if it was removed.

The case has provoked demands for the “arcane” defence - which applies only to wives - to be scrapped. Mr Brown said the law needs updating, but told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “Those responsible for that should be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are still cases where there are women in relationships where they are vulnerable and they may be put under pressure to commit crimes and they need the state to be able to defend them rather than just prosecute them.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones