Battle of the briefs as ex-minister and wife get court date

 

Chris Huhne was never the centre of a show quite like this in his years as a fast-rising politician. Cameras, lights, celebrity lawyers, piped music and a nutcase in fancy dress were all there to enliven up a short and very routine court hearing.

The former Energy Secretary, who has been the Liberal Democrat MP for Eastleigh since 2005, and his estranged wife, Vicky Pryce, the former head of the Government Economic Service, spent 10 minutes in the dock at Southwark Crown Court while a judge and barristers discussed dates. The main excitement was discovering who was on their legal teams.

Mr Huhne's barrister is John Kelsey-Fry QC, among whose previous clients are the Tottenham manager, Harry Redknapp, the film director Roman Polanski and the England footballer Steven Gerrard. Ms Pryce is represented by Clare Montgomery QC, famed as one of the sharpest brains on the circuit. She heads the prosecution team in the case of the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, who is fighting to avoid extradition to Sweden. It is alleged that in 2003, Ms Pryce took the penalty points for a speeding offence when Mr Huhne was the person at the wheel. Both face a charge of perverting the course of justice. The defendants did not speak except to confirm their names.

Their trial, which could last two weeks, is scheduled for October.

The short hearing offered a glimpse of the impact the Olympics is expected to have on London life, when Mr Justice Saunders suggested that they avoid reconvening in July, because it would be difficult to travel to and from the court amid the Olympic traffic.

Probably the worst ordeal of the morning was leaving the court. Photographers had been joined by a lone eccentric dressed in Irish folk dress. He had brought along a loudspeaker that played Irish jigs on a loop and he bounded up to be photographed with Mr Huhne, brandishing a placard which promised that Jesus is coming to sweep away all politicians.

Mr Huhne walked stiffly through the scrum and climbed into a waiting taxi without saying a word.

M'learned friends: QCs for Huhne and Pryce

John Kelsey-Fry (for Huhne)

On a high since successfully representing Harry Redknapp against allegations of tax evasion, forays into sport have also included successfully defending footballer Steven Gerrard against an affray charge and jockey Kieren Fallon over race-fixing allegations. He successfully acted for director Roman Polanski – accused of child-sex offences – in a defamation case against Vanity Fair.

Clare Montgomery (for Pryce)

She's been dubbed "two brains" for her capacity to analyse cases in fine detail. Clients have included the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and the former Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra. She is also representing the prosecution in attempts to extradite Julian Assange of WikiLeaks to Sweden. Her triumphs include appeals against murder convictions for Sion Jenkins and Sally Clark.

Arts & Entertainment
A stranger calls: Martin Freeman in ‘Fargo’
tvReview: New 10-part series brims with characters and stories

Arts & Entertainment
Shaun Evans as Endeavour interviews a prisoner as he tries to get to the bottom of a police cover up
Review: Second series comes to close with startling tale of police corruption and child abuse
Sport
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
football Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
Arts & Entertainment
Charlotte Brontë, the English novelist, poet and the eldest of the three Bronte sisters who lived into adulthood, has been celebrated with a Google Doodle depicting her most famous novel, Jane Eyre.
arts + ents "Reader, they doodled her".

Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Arts & Entertainment
The star of the sitcom ‘Miranda’ is hugely popular with mainstream audiences
TVMiranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes looks on during his side's defeat to Everton
footballBaines and Mirallas score against United as Everton keep alive hopes of a top-four finish
Sport
Tour de France 2014Sir Rodney Walker on organising the UK stages of this year’s race
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Brown Findlay as Mary Yellan in ‘Jamaica Inn’
TVJessica Brown Findlay on playing the spirited heroine of Jamaica Inn
News
YouTube clocks up more than a billion users a month
mediaEuropean rival Dailymotion certainly thinks so
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents
Arts & Entertainment
‘Self-Portrait Worshipping Christ’ (c943-57) by St Dunstan
books How British artists perfected the art of the self-portrait
News
People
News
Sir Cliff Richard is to release his hundredth album at age 72
PEOPLE
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

Day In a Page

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter: The man who could have been champion of the world - and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him

The man who could have been champion of the world

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him
Didn’t she do well?

Didn’t she do well?

Miranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

In Iraq, mafiosi already run almost the entire oil output of the south of the country
Before they were famous

Before they were famous

Can you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is genius

Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is a stroke of genius

Series is brimming with characters and stories all its own
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players