Divided they sat: Huhne and ex-wife reunited in court over speeding case

 

The two central players in the case of Chris Huhne's allegedly dodged speeding ticket appeared in court for the first time yesterday over a matter dating back nine years that cost the millionaire Liberal Democrat his seat in the Cabinet.

Prosecutors claim that the former Energy Secretary Mr Huhne, 57, persuaded his then wife, Vicky Pryce, to take the three points that should have been placed on his driving licence in 2003 for speeding. Both are accused of perverting the course of justice. Technically, the two co-defendants, who were married for 26 years, sat together in the dock yesterday at Westminster magistrates' court in London.

It was a brief coming together – it lasted just six minutes – but there was not a glance, not an acknowledgement, not a shared word. Mr Huhne and his ex-wife arrived apart, sat apart and left apart.

At the start of the hearing Ms Pryce, 59, who arrived first at court No 1, sat at one end of a row of seats in front of the glass-surrounded dock – and placed her coat next to her – while her ex-husband arrived five minutes later to take a seat at the far end. He slightly turned his back to her to face the magistrate's chair.

But the senior district judge Howard Riddle ordered that the two should go into the dock. "The rule in this court is defendants, whoever they are, are in the dock," he said.

The pair took similar positions inside the dock about 10ft apart.

During the brief hearing, Ms Pryce, an economist, and Mr Huhne spoke only to confirm their names, their dates of birth and their addresses: his in Eastleigh, Hampshire; hers in Clapham, south-west London.

The court heard that the case would be adjourned to 2 March for the next hearing at Southwark Crown Court and the pair will remain on bail. The hearing lasted a total of six minutes.

The case dates back to March 2003 when Mr Huhne's car was allegedly caught by a speed camera on the motorway between Stansted airport in Essex and London. Accusations of impropriety only emerged in 2010 after Mr Huhne, who has five children, admitted to an affair with an adviser Carina Trimingham and ended his marriage.

He left his Cabinet job on 3 February after the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, announced that the pair would face criminal charges following an eight-month police investigation. The charge carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own