Chris Huhne fights £100,000 court bill over Vicky Pryce points-swapping case

The former Liberal Democrat minister is serving an eight-month prison sentence for perverting the course of justice

The jailed ex-Cabinet Minister Chris Huhne returned to court today to fight a £100,000 claim for police costs and legal fees racked up before he admitted his role in covering up a decade-old driving offence.

Huhne’s legal team offered to pay less than a quarter of the £108,000 sought by the prosecution, which launched further inquiries after he claimed that his vengeful ex-wife had cooked up a story that he had passed his speeding penalty points to her.

The former politician had maintained his innocence up to the moment that his trial was due to start in March, when he pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.

Both he, and his wife Vicky Pryce, 61, who was found guilty after a second trial, were jailed for eight months. They are both expected to be released on an electronic tag next month after serving a quarter of their sentence.

The legal wrangling continued yesterday as a judge was asked to consider how much each of them had to pay to cover the costs of preparing the case.

The prosecution sought £48,695 from his wife and £108,539 from Mr Huhne because of the extra costs totted up as he tried to get the case thrown out of court.

The former Energy Secretary, wearing a blue suit and tie, was brought from the open prison in Gloucestershire where he is serving his sentence, for the hearing at Southwark Crown Court. His ex-wife did not attend.

“We have said his abuse of process argument which he ran vigorously, until he lost, at great cost to the public purse was based on a lie,” said Andrew Edis, QC, counsel for the prosecution. “That’s why all this money against him has been spent. He didn’t have to do that – but he did.”

Allegations were made by his legal team against the “probity and competence” of the prosecution and police, which led to officers’ telephone records being trawled.

“All of that was his free choice and it carries a bill,” said Mr Edis. “That bill is £108,539.”

Mr Huhne’s legal team said that police only uncovered potential wrong-doing after they pushed for further inquiries.

Mr Huhne passed his speeding points to his ex-wife after he was caught by a speeding camera on the M11 in May 2003 and was facing a driving ban while he campaigned for his first Westminster seat. Vicky Pryce went public with the allegations following the acrimonious break-up of their marriage in 2010. It sparked a police investigation, forced Mr Huhne to quit his Cabinet job and then lost his liberty in March.

The trial judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, will rule on the level of costs next week.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee