'Marital coercion': Pryce makes the case for her defence in Huhne-gate
Ex-wife puts the blame on former minister as their court case over speeding points begins
Saturday 02 June 2012
The ex-wife of Chris Huhne will claim that she was "coerced" by the former Energy Secretary to take three penalty points on his behalf for a speeding offence when she stands trial later this year, a court heard yesterday.
Vicky Pryce, an economist, pleaded not guilty to a charge of perverting the course of justice and indicated that she would use a defence of "marital coercion" when the case came to court.
Mr Justice Saunders agreed with Oliver Glasgow, for the prosecution, that there would be no reason why the press should not be allowed to report details of Ms Pryce's defence.
Mr Glasgow said: "There is no secrecy the defence is marital coercion. I don't see that there is any prejudice caused to the prospect of a fair trial ... [if] it is reported she entered a not guilty plea and intends to advance a defence of marital coercion at trial."
Mr Huhne, 57, who sat in the dock alongside his former wife but staring straight ahead, with an empty chair between them, will try to have a similar charge against him dismissed at a later date, the court heard. His defence team is led by the prominent barrister John Kelsey-Fry, who successfully defended the Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp earlier this year over accusations of tax evasion.
Mr Huhne, who was wearing a dark suit and tie, did not enter any plea during the hearing at Southwark Crown Court in London.
A conviction for perverting the course of justice carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Mr Huhne, from Eastleigh in Hampshire, is accused of telling the authorities that Ms Pryce was behind the wheel when their car was caught on a speed camera between Stansted, Essex, and London in 2003. It meant that he was not prosecuted for the offence or liable for the fine. A complaint about the alleged driver-swap was made to Essex Police last year after Mr Huhne, who has five children, admitted having an affair with his public relations adviser and aide Carina Trimingham. The affair led to the end of the couple's 26-year marriage.
Mr Huhne remains the Liberal Democrat MP for Eastleigh but he stood down from the Cabinet after the Crown Prosecution Service announced in February that he and his ex-wife would be charged. The pair arrived separately yesterday for the morning hearing in court No 3 which lasted for more than 30 minutes. They sat in the front row of the glass-panelled dock, with a female security officer sitting just behind them, and did not speak to each other during the course of the hearing.
They spoke only to confirm their names, and for Ms Pryce – who was listed in court by her Greek forename Vasiliki – to answer "not guilty" to the charge against her.
Ms Pryce, of Clapham, south London, and who wore a beige jacket and skirt, left after her former husband, accompanied by members of her legal team. She will be defended at trial by Clare Montgomery QC.
The pair were both given bail. A provisional trial date has been set for 2 October and the prosecution said that it was not expected to last longer than a fortnight.
filmFilm producers sue Warner Bros for $75m over Hobbit films
sportNapoli 2 Arsenal 0: Gunners must now face either Real Madrid, PSG, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid or Barcelona in knock-out stages
Swedish stars ask fans for £195 pledges on crowd-funding website
voicesJust when you thought you could find a man, get married, and have a baby by the age of 35... it turns out you’re too late, says Grace Dent
musicAs Mariah Carey and Noddy Holder rake in the royalties from their classics, why there hasn't been a decent festive hit for 20 years?
theatreAuthor Daniel Rosenthal recalls the mishaps that almost brought the curtain down on the likes of John Gielgud and Diana Rigg
lifeAs the Royal Mail plans to phase out deliveries on two wheels, it's no wonder posties are in a spin
musicThe 21-year-old beat Ella Eyre and Chlöe Howl to win the honour
lifeFull of the joys and want to help your fellow man? December isn't the time to do it
techLuke Blackall reports on precision engineered prams and babygros that monitor your child 24-7
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
- 2 John McAfee's $100 'anti-NSA' device: 'this is coming and cannot be stopped'
- 3 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 4 Is Facebook making us forget? Study shows that taking pictures ruin memories
- 5 Australia incest case: Filthy and severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
David Cameron explains selfie with Obama and Helle Thorning-Schmidt at Mandela Memorial
French café starts charging extra to rude customers
Krokodil in Mexico? Teenager hospitalised after 'injecting drug into her genitals'
Australia incest case: Filthy and severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding