Guilty: Vicky Pryce convicted over Chris Huhne speeding scam

 

Crime Correspondent

The woman who plotted Chris Huhne's downfall was herself facing jail today after a jury found that she was an accomplice in the scam to take her former husband's speeding points for a driving offence ten years ago.

Vicky Pryce, 60, a former senior government economist, claimed that she had been forced into taking the points by the former Energy Secretary after she had been worn down by a campaign of bullying and sustained pressure. But a jury of seven men and five women at Southwark Crown Court today found her guilty after hearing that she had lied repeatedly about her campaign to bring down her husband in an act of revenge over an extra-marital affair.

Pryce, dressed in a grey two-piece business suit, opened her mouth in shock when the jury foreman read out the verdict.

Judge Mr Justice Sweeney granted Pryce bail until sentencing, a date for which has not been set, when he will also sentence Huhne.

He told the economist, as he had told Huhne, to be under no illusion of what sentence to expect.

"Obviously Ms Pryce was present when I indicated to Mr Huhne the inevitable consequences of a conviction for an offence of this sort.

"She must be under no illusions that my granting of bail indicates any watering down of that provisional approach."

He thanked the jury for discharging their task "assiduously" in a case which could not have been easy.

Huhne had been caught by a speed camera on the M11 as he returned from the Strasbourg parliament where he was working as an MEP in March 2003.

He faced a certain driving ban as he would have totted up 12 points. He persuaded his wife to take three of them to avoid embarrassment as he campaigned for the nomination for the Eastleigh parliamentary seat which he saw as his route to Westminster after two failed attempts.

Huhne, 58, pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice and resigned as the MP for Eastleigh, ending a career which had seen him part of the coalition negotiation team and a one-time tip as leader of the Liberal Democrats.

The plot was revealed only after the break-up of the couple's 26-year marriage when Pryce sought to "nail" him after he announced that he was leaving her for an aide, Carina Trimingham.

Emails showed how she negotiated with two newspapers to get the story published about her husband's crime without implicating herself.

She claimed that she told a high-profile barrister and judge, Constance Briscoe, about her husband's offence in 2003 and she was due to be the chief prosecution witness in the case.

But the trial was delayed for months after Ms Briscoe was accused of lying in a police statement. Ms Briscoe was arrested in October and faces possible prosecution for perjury and perverting the course of justice. Briscoe had been working as an intermediary between Pryce and the media, the court heard.

Pryce herself had denied perverting the course of justice citing the ancient defence of "marital coercion" suggesting that they she had no real choice but to do what her husband asked. She told how her former husband - they divorced in early 2012 - stood in the hallway of their home with a pen in his hand and told her to sign the forms naming her as a driver.

Further reading

Lib Dems 'knew Huhne had broken law months before it became public'

The e-mails between Vicky Pryce and Sunday Times reporter Isabel Oakeshott

The campaign by vengeful wife and 'batty' barrister

Trial laid bare strains in Huhne household

The ups and downs of the ultimate power couple

Marital coercion - a defence that faces major change

Debate: Is accepting points, as Vicky Pryce did, par for the course in a loving marriage?

Do you have any sympathy for Vicky Pryce?

Vicky Pryce, Chris Huhne and why this was not a criminal trial, but a divorce case by proxy

Judge praises jury for 'assiduously performing duties' after embarrassment of first trial

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