The ex-wife of disgraced MP Chris Huhne faces a retrial on Monday after a jury was discharged for failing to reach a verdict in her trial for perverting the course of justice after taking speeding points for him.
Vicky Pryce, 60, will return to court next week after the jury said it was “highly unlikely” that they would be able to reach a majority verdict after more than 15 hours of consideration.
Ms Pryce, a prominent economist, had denied the charge claiming that she only signed the police document naming her as the driver for the 2003 offence after a campaign of bullying from the former Energy Minister. She had claimed the defence of marital coercion.
A new jury is due to be sworn in next week after the current panel of eight women and four men were discharged from duty on their fourth day of deliberations after the short trial.
The trial judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, told the jury this morning that they could come to a majority verdict of 10-2 after answering a series of questions put sent to him yesterday (Tues). They included the question: “Can a juror come to a verdict based on a reason that was not presented in court and has no facts or evidence to support it either from the prosecution or the defence?”
The judge told the jury: “The answer to that question is, firmly, no.”
The jury returned this afternoon to say that they could not come to a verdict. “Against the background of the length of time that you have been in retirement already, I have decided therefore, and it is my decision one way or the other, that I must discharge you from any further deliberations,” said the judge.
“That means that your role in this case is now over.”
Ms Pryce showed little emotion as the judge discharged the jury and sat with her chin in her hand. Huhne, who admitted the charge on the first day of the trial more than two weeks ago, will be sentenced at a later date.
The allegation against her dates back to 2003 when the former politician’s BMW was clocked speeding at nearly 20 mph over the speed limit on the M11 as he returned from a stint at the European parliament.
He already had nine points and faced a certain ban just as he was campaigning for the nomination for the Hampshire seat of Eastleigh, the court heard, and was worried about the damage to his reputation.
Ms Pryce told the jury that she felt that she had no choice but to sign the forms taking responsibility under pressure from her husband. The points swapping only came to light following the break-up of the couple’s 26-year marriage in 2010 when Huhne’s revealed a long-time relationship with aide Carina Trimingham.
The trial heard she spent months trying to reveal the points-swapping to the media so she could “nail” her husband in revenge for his infidelity.
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