Ex slams Chris Huhne on marriage comments

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Cabinet minister Chris Huhne's public expression of regret over the bitter break-up of his marriage won him a stinging rebuke from ex-wife Vicky Pryce today.

In a statement issued through her solicitor, Ms Pryce said she was "concerned" that her ex-husband thought it appropriate to discuss her private affairs at a public meeting.

She described the Energy Secretary's comments at the Liberal Democrat conference in Birmingham - which she was also attending - as "a serious intrusion into mine and our family's private life".

The couple were married for more than 25 years before Mr Huhne left for another woman last year. Soon afterwards, allegations emerged that he had tried to evade punishment for speeding by asking Ms Pryce to take penalty points.

Interviewed at a fringe event organised by the Observer at the Liberal Democrat conference yesterday, Mr Huhne opened up for the first time about the acrimonious split.

"Frankly it was an appalling set of circumstances," he said. "I personally feel enormously regretful about what I put my family through and what happened with Vicky."

He added: "I entirely understand the stress that she has been caused. She has not traditionally been out there in public."

Asked by journalist Andrew Rawnsley whether he had apologised, the MP replied: "Yes."

But pressed on whether she had accepted he said: "No."

Ms Pryce said in her statement: "I am surprised that my ex-husband considers it appropriate to talk at a public meeting about the very private aspects of our family life.

"I do not intend to comment on his interview or its accuracy.

"However, I consider, particularly given the setting of where he was, that what he said is a serious intrusion into mine and our family's private life."

In yesterday's interview, Mr Huhne acknowledged that his ex-wife was "still very angry" over their break-up.

Both Ms Pryce and the MP's new partner, former press officer Carina Trimingham, attended the gathering in Birmingham this week.

During the fringe event, Mr Huhne again said he was "confident" that he would be cleared after a police probe into allegations that Ms Pryce took speeding points on his behalf in 2003.

"I am expecting and I hope that the results of the inquiry will draw a line under the whole matter, and that will be an end of it," he said.

Asked to "swear" Ms Pryce had not accepted a penalty on his behalf, he responded: "Absolutely."

He said he had "no idea" how many times he had broken the 70mph speed limit, but admitted it was "too many".

"Too many times because I lost my licence on cumulative points and tot-up," he added.

He went on: "I also obviously accept that law-makers should not be law-breakers."

The Crown Prosecution Service is currently considering an evidence file and is expected to make a decision on whether to proceed with charges next month.

Mr Huhne said he had "no idea" when the case would be concluded.