Vicky Pryce: I don't blame journalists for my downfall

 

The ex-wife of disgraced former Cabinet minister Chris Huhne said she did not blame the journalists involved in the pair's downfall.

Vicky Pryce and Mr Huhne were jailed for eight months after she took speeding points for him, and the Lib Dem ex-minister claimed the media stories which led to his prison term were "payback" for his support for investigations into allegations of hacking by Rupert Murdoch's newspapers.

But Ms Pryce said: "I have no comment to make on what he thinks. I don't begrudge anyone in terms of what's happened, or any of the journalists, frankly."

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I did something and I paid the price for it and that is it."

The ex-energy secretary claimed that the News of the World hired a private investigator to put him under surveillance in 2009 to gain information about an affair after he spoke out about phone hacking.

"The News of the World sparked the end of my marriage, but another Murdoch title, the Sunday Times, then groomed my ex-wife until she told them about the speeding points," he claimed in The Guardian last month.

Ms Pryce refused to comment on Mr Justice Sweeney's sentencing remarks, in which he said she was motivated by an "implacable desire for revenge" after the break-up of their marriage.

"The thing to do in these circumstances is just to look forward, and I did," she said.

"I make absolutely no comment at what he said."

Ms Pryce was speaking to launch her new book, Prisonomics, the royalties from which are going to the charity Working Chance, which finds work for offenders reaching the end of their sentences and ex-offenders.

She told BBC Breakfast she slept "incredibly well" on her first night in Holloway women's prison in north London as she had been exhausted.

"By the time I got to Holloway I was absolutely exhausted. They do say that when you go to jail you get locked in finally on your first night and you go to bed and you turn to the wall and you cry, basically spend the night crying," she said.

"In my case, probably because I was so tired, I slept incredibly well, I have to admit, and it carried on being the case because it must have been a pretty emotionally tiring period for me and somehow through the jail period I managed to pull through."

She said some women in jail were victims themselves because of physical and sexual abuse.

"I am not suggesting necessarily that they haven't done what they are accused of having done and are therefore found guilty. But there are different ways of treating them," she said.

"Those with mental and drug problems need to actually go and do something different. They need to have intensive care because otherwise you turn your prisons into amateur psychiatric hospitals which actually shouldn't be the case."

Different types of sentences could be imposed which were "just as punitive" but kept them in their homes and near their communities, she said.

Asked if she had questioned whether she should have gone to prison in the first place and whether she thought that was the wrong decision, Ms Pryce said: "This is a very fair question, I have to say, but I have to admit that I haven't questioned it, I haven't questioned what actually has happened and what the judgment was.

"I have accepted it. I knew I had to do my punishment and I have done it."

Pressed again about her personal reflections on her actions, Ms Pryce said: "Definitely you do tend to spend quite some time worrying about all that, of course, while you are in jail, while you have a bit more time perhaps to think about this.

"But there is no way that I am going to be looking back and worrying about this. What I have to do is look forward."

PA

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