Only the cold-hearted could fail to see a brave and brilliant woman who made a mistake

If you break the law, you have to pay. Those are the rules. Vicky Pryce knows the rules

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This story is about the unravelling of a family, and the unravelling of a life. If Vicky Pryce had known where her desire to "nail" her former husband would lead, she wouldn't have done what she did. But she didn't know. Because you don't. When the man you've been married to for 26 years tells you in the middle of a football match that the marriage is over because of an affair, and that he needs to make an announcement to save his career, and then goes off to the gym, you're probably not thinking about what you could do that would be sensible, and sane. And when it's splashed all over the papers that you've been swapped for a woman who was in a relationship with a woman, so that the end of your world is made to seem like a joke, you're probably not thinking about how to make everyone's life a little bit better.

And when you've worked incredibly hard all your life, and been very, very successful in areas where hardly any women are successful, and been one of the top economic advisers for the Government, and are then most famous for being "scorned", it probably means that the thinking you're doing while all this is going on isn't quite as cool as the thinking you've been doing for the Government.

When Vicky Pryce told the Mail on Sunday, in 2010, that Chris Huhne had asked "a constituency aide" to take the points he got for speeding, because she wanted him to be punished for what he had done to her, it wasn't sensible, or wise. It wasn't sensible to tell a Sunday Times journalist that she had taken the points herself. And it certainly wasn't sensible to tell the police that she had been driving a car she hadn't been driving, and so tell a lie that the law classifies as a crime.

If you break the law, you have to pay. Those are the rules. Vicky Pryce knows the rules. She broke the law, and now she has to pay. Of course she wasn't "coerced" by her husband into taking those points, if "coerced" means you don't have any choice at all. But you can feel "coerced" even if you aren't. You can worry about what might happen to your children if your husband gets angry, or if something goes wrong with his career. You can worry about those things, and, as the text messages between Chris Huhne and one of his sons have shown – text messages which the world should never have seen – you can find out that your worries were right.

Whatever Vicky Pryce now faces, it probably won't match the pain of a mother who has seen her children suffer in the way those text messages told the world they had. It might not even match the pain of being abandoned by the man she loved, and loves. If she tried to hide her pain, she didn't do it very well. Maybe you can't always hide your pain. Maybe the people who manage it manage it because they don't have all that much pain, or maybe they do it because their hearts are cold. Vicky Pryce wanted revenge. There are times when we all want revenge. At those times, we should try to be calm, and analytical, and cool, and wise, but the trouble is, we often aren't.

As she faces the consequences of not being calm, and analytical, and cool, and wise, Vicky Pryce should remember this. She should remember that there are many people who have watched a brave, brilliant, passionate woman fall from grace because she made a mistake, and who want her to know that a fall from grace isn't the end of respect, or a life.

Do you have any sympathy for Vicky Pryce? Vote in our poll

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