Vicky Pryce’s brother appeared for the first time at her trial like a “rabbit out of the hat” to back up her story that she was bullied into taking speeding points for her ex-husband Chris Huhne, a court heard today.
George Courmouzis, a Greece-based sports marketing expert, did not give evidence at his sister’s first trial, which ended without a jury reaching a verdict, even though he was in the country for periods of the case, Southwark Crown Court was told. Mr Courmouzis said he had not been asked.
Mr Courmouzis said that he had a conversation with his younger sister soon after the disgraced ex-Minister had been caught speeding in March 2003 and then passed responsibility for the offence to her. He told the jury of seven men and five women that his sister told him that she felt she had no option but to take the points so Huhne could avoid a speeding ban as he campaigned for a Westminster seat.
Andrew Edis, QC, for the prosecution told the jury that they should carefully consider his evidence. “He appeared like a rabbit out of a hat having been entirely silent during the first trial,” he said.
During his evidence, Mr Courmouzis said that his sister had been left frustrated that her then-husband was banned shortly after the point-swapping episode after being caught by police making a phone call while driving.
Mr Courmouzis told a jury that Ms Pryce’s decision to take her then husband’s penalty points for the 2003 speeding offence went “against the moral grain” and she was angered by his “behaviour of recklessness that was being repeated”.
Mr Courmouzis claimed that his sister had been left with no option but to take the points. “She had been nominated by him and was presented with a fait accompli, a nomination which she believed was irreversible or carried few options,” he said.
Under cross-examination from Mr Edis, Mr Courmouzis denied that he was giving evidence out of “family loyalty”.
Details of the point-swapping came only after the break-up of the couple’s marriage in 2010 following an affair between Huhne and his aide, Carina Trimingham.
The court has heard that she told journalists about how he passed on the points after being caught by a speed camera on the M11 on his way home from European Parliament in Strasbourg. The court has heard that she wanted to nail her ex-husband over his betrayal.
Ms Pryce, 60, accepts that she took her husband’s penalty points but denies perverting the course of justice. She is claiming the defence of marital coercion and says that she was subject to a sustained period of bullying by her husband.