Top judge Constance Briscoe 'lied to police in order to bring down Chris Huhne', court hears

Ms Briscoe is accused of misleading officers, tampering with an official statement and then submitting a fake document to try to get herself out of trouble

Crime Correspondent

One of Britain’s most prominent black women judges attempted to manipulate the criminal justice system after lying to police about a plot to bring down the former minister Chris Huhne over the speeding points scandal, a court has heard.

Constance Briscoe, 56, misled officers, tampered with an official statement and then submitted a fake document to try to get herself out of trouble, Southwark Crown Court was told.

Ms Briscoe had claimed in a police statement that she had been told in 2003 that the former minister persuaded his then-wife Vicky Pryce to take his speeding points to avoid a driving ban – eight years before the story became front page news.

She was set to be a vital witness in the trial of the high-profile couple in 2013 but was dropped when it emerged that she had been involved in passing the story to newspapers that triggered the police inquiry and could not be relied on to give “truthful and reliable” evidence, the court heard.

She went on trial yesterday for perverting the course of justice over “misleading” statements to police after claiming that she had not been in contact with journalists about the stories that led to Mr Huhne’s eventual downfall, the court heard.

Ms Briscoe, a criminal barrister, part-time judge and best-selling author, had appeared to police to be an independent and truthful witness with no loyalties to either Mr Huhne or Ms Pryce, her neighbours in Clapham, south London, before the bitter break-up of their marriage in 2010, the court was told.

The prosecution said Ms Briscoe was intent on bringing down Chris Huhne (Getty) The prosecution said Ms Briscoe was intent on bringing down Chris Huhne (Getty)
But for reasons of her own, she was intent on bringing down Mr Huhne and acted as a go-between for Ms Pryce and journalists trying to write her story, said Ms Bobbie Cheema QC, opening the prosecution case.

Ms Briscoe’s denials of contacts with the media were exposed after prosecutors obtained e-mails and telephone logs from journalists that revealed that she had been in talks with reporters for months before the stories of the point-swapping saga first appeared in May 2011, said Ms Cheema.

One journalist wrote to a colleague that Ms Briscoe “is determined to go for the kill. Unlike VP [Vicky Pryce] she is nicely out of the spotlight and just wants Huhne to get his comeuppance ie to lose his position as Energy Secretary and be exposed as a liar.”

She gave two “inaccurate and misleading” statements to police and tampered with one of them, said Ms Cheema. She then submitted a false version of one of her original statements which had been scrutinised by an expert witness in an attempt to back her own account of the story to the courts, said Ms Cheema.

She hid what she had done, misled police and then tried to manipulate the police and courts during an investigation into her actions, she said.

“It seems from the evidence you will be asked to consider that despite all her advantages, for reasons of her own, she was prepared to lie to the police, present an entirely false picture about herself, of her relationship with Miss Pryce and her relationship with journalists.”

Even without her evidence, the pair were both jailed for six months last year after Ms Pryce took her husband’s speeding points so he could avoid a driving ban.

Ms Briscoe denies three counts of perverting the course of justice.

The case continues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works