One of Britain’s most prominent black lawyers will appear at a crown court next month accused of providing inaccurate statements to police officers 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 on June 12 with two counts of intending to pervert the course of justice.
She appeared in the dock at Westminster magistrates’ court for a two-minute hearing today in which she spoke only to confirm her name and her date of birth.
Ms Briscoe, who stood with her arms crossed as the charges were read to her, nodded when District Judge Nicholas Evans told her she had to attend the next hearing on July 2 at Southwark Crown Court.
Ms Briscoe, wearing a charcoal three-quarter length jacket and black boots, made no comment as she left the court with her solicitor, Angus McBride. She is on bail.
Ms Briscoe, of Clapham, south London, is accused of providing two 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 jail over the affair, and have both been released after serving a quarter of their sentences. 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.
When she was charged earlier this month, 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 on October 6 that had been altered and that she maintained was the correct version.
Ms Briscoe, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, has appeared on BBC Question Time and has been a regular feature in the society pages of newspapers. She rose to prominence with the publication of her 2006 book Ugly, in which she detailed a traumatic childhood.
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.