'I will fight': Judge Constance Briscoe disputes intending to pervert course of justice over Chris Huhne statements
She is accused of supplying inaccurate statements to Essex police during investigation over claims that former minister passed speeding points to his then wife, Vicky Pryce
Wednesday 12 June 2013
One of Britain's most prominent black lawyers has promised to fight claims in court that she provided inaccurate statements to police investigating the disgraced former cabinet minister Chris Huhne.
Constance Briscoe, 56, a part-time judge who shot to prominence with a misery memoir about her early life, was charged yesterday with two counts of intending to pervert the course of justice.
Ms Briscoe, of Clapham, south London, is accused of providing false statements to Essex police officers who were investigating Mr Huhne over claims that he passed penalty points for a 2003 speeding offence to his then wife, Vicky Pryce.
The former couple were sentenced to eight months each in prison over the affair. The former energy secretary pleaded guilty on the first day of the trial and his wife was later convicted after two trials. They have both since been released from prison.
The trial heard that Ms Briscoe was a neighbour and friend of Ms Pryce and she had dealings with the media before the story of the point-swapping came to light and was questioned by Essex police during the subsequent inquiry.
Ms Briscoe, a mother-of-two, was first arrested in October last year and has been suspended from the judiciary pending the outcome of the police inquiry. Police announced yesterday that she had been charged and would appear in court in central London on June 24.
In a statement issued through her lawyers, Ms Briscoe said: "I am deeply distressed at the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service to charge me today. I have not committed the offences alleged against me and I will fight the allegations in Court.
"There is a great deal more I would like to say now but I have been advised that I should not do so at this stage. I ask only that no judgement is reached against me on the basis of this prosecution decision and before the full facts are heard."
Ms Briscoe is accused of providing Essex police with two inaccurate statements between May 16, 2011 and October 6, 2012. The second charge is related to her alleged production of a copy of witness statement that had been altered and that she maintained was the correct version, said Deborah Walsh, a senior lawyer at the Crown Prosecution Service.
"We have authorised the Kent and Essex Police Serious Crime Directorate to charge Constance Briscoe with two counts of intending to pervert the course of public justice," she said.
Ms Briscoe, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, is one of the better-known members of the legal profession owing to her writing, an appearance on the BBC television programme Question Time and regular mentions in the society pages of newspapers.
Ms Briscoe's profile grew with the publication of her 2006 book Ugly, in which she detailed a traumatic childhood and described how her mother neglected her, beat her for wetting the bed and taunted her over her looks. Her mother unsuccessfully sued her over the portrayal and faces a costs claim that could see her lose her home.
Ms Briscoe, a mother-of-two followed it with a second book, Beyond Ugly, which details how she left home, rebuilt her confidence with the help of plastic surgery and made her way in the legal world. She was called to the Bar in 1983 and appointed a Recorder - a part-time judge - 13 years later.
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