Vicky Pryce succumbed to a sustained campaign of bullying and pressure before she made the fatal decision to take her husband’s speeding points during “three critical seconds” that saw her end up in the dock, a court heard today.
Ms Pryce, 60, was no “bloodless, emotionless” superwoman who was able to shrug off the pressure from her ambitious husband, the former Cabinet Minister Chris Huhne, and refuse to take his penalty points after he was caught speeding on the M11 in 2003, a jury was told.
Southwark Crown Court heard that she had been subject to domineering behaviour at the hands of her husband – even though he was not physically violent or came back from the House of Commons to beat her black and blue, said her counsel Julian Knowles QC.
“Bullies, domineers don’t just use their fists, they don’t have to,” said Mr Knowles during his closing speech to the jury. “Clever people like Mr Huhne have other ways to be controlling and domineering.”
He added: “Everyone has a breaking point, don’t they. Everyone runs out of gas. ”
Mr Knowles said that Huhne was a ferociously ambitious man who had been given his best chance in 2003 to secure the “plum” parliamentary seat of Eastleigh. That opportunity was threatened by the possibility of reputational damage if it was known he had been banned for driving for amassing 12 penalty points, Mr Knowles said.
He then pressurised his then wife to take the points on his behalf, he said. “Intellectually intelligent he may have been, emotionally intelligent he certainly was not,” said Mr Knowles.
Ms Pryce denies perverting the course of justice and is claiming the defence of marital coercion. Mr Knowles said the jury of eight women and four men should find her not guilty of the offence. “Chris Huhne may have been the politician with people voting for him, but she needs your votes now, 12 of them,” he said.
Huhne pleaded guilty on Monday last week to the same charge and resigned his seat. He will be sentenced at a later date.
The case continues.