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The emails that questioned how much senior LIb Dems knew
3:41pm Thursday 7th March 2013 in News
A series of emails between Vicky Pryce and Sunday Times journalist Isabel Oakeshott raises questions about how much senior Liberal Democrats knew about the scandal before it hit the headlines.
As they planned how best to ''nail'' Chris Huhne, Pryce told Ms Oakeshott that she had revealed the points-swapping scandal to Vince Cable and his wife Rachel months before the story was published.
After Pryce was convicted both Mr Cable and party leader Nick Clegg's wife Miriam denied any knowledge of the scandal.
In a statement issued by the party, Miriam Clegg, pictured below wiht her husband, said: ''I have never ever been told by Vicky or anybody else about the traffic points story. I got to know about this when everybody else did.''
A spokeswoman for Vince Cable, below, said: ''Vince and Rachel have no recollection of the issue of points being raised with them over the course of dinner with Vicky Pryce on 28 January 2011.
''They have consulted their personal records which confirm that the issue first came to their attention in May 2011 when the story broke in the press.''
Pryce first told Ms Oakeshott she had taken points for her ex-husband over a lunch in March 2011 and the pair exchanged emails - shown to the jury up until the story was published on May 8 that year.
In an email to Ms Oakeshott on April 9, Pryce wrote: ''Actually I had told Vince and Rachel about points before when the three of us were having supper about a month ago - they were horrified at the time but VC has probably forgotten it by now. He was v tired that night.''
The revelation is likely to raise questions over whether senior Lib Dems knew of the allegations before they surfaced.
As the women discussed whether the allegations would prompt Huhne to resign, Ms Oakeshott said Lib Dem leader Clegg - who beat Huhne to the leadership in 2007 - would ''probably secretly be gleeful''.
The journalist later quipped: ''well i'm sure he's (Huhne) never got over the fact that he was only very marginally defeated by Clegg, and it was partly because Clegg is better looking ... !''
Pryce was at a dinner at Mansion House with the Cables when she emailed Ms Oakeshott describing her desire to ''nail'' Huhne, the emails revealed.
In their conversations, the women planned a trip to Greece to work on the story, while Pryce also suggested Huhne had been involved in dodgy financial deals in the past.
The evening after they met on March 1, Ms Oakeshott, who was on maternity leave at the time, emailed Pryce her ''grand plan'', saying: ''We could perhaps go away somewhere nice for a few days, to work on it in complete privacy and in relaxed surroundings.
''It wouldn't have to be anywhere fancy (though it could be!) and I'm sure the Sunday Times would help foot the bill. You look like you need a break, and i certainly do.''
As they planned the trip, Pryce wrote: ''I will check April diaries and we can go to Greece for four days although we must avoid Easter at the end of April of course - and the royal wedding ....
''Could always of course do something in the UK instead in some nice spa (are there such things?) if easier re baby for you.''
In one email, Pryce suggested to Ms Oakeshott that someone look into how Huhne had amassed his fortune.
''Basically the reason he was able to build property portfolio and fund his political ambitions has very little to do with him 'making millions in the City' which he didn't and a lot to do with me,'' she said.
''Facts, from public sources should be easy to come by, dodgy investments in mining companies etc, Private Eye had been looking at his financial transactions for a while, particularly some dodgy fX deals when he was an MEP).
''In fact except for a brief period when he worked for Fitch and was earning 6 figure sums and then got a leaving bonus of a few hundred thousand he was just a journalist or an MEP or MP whilst I was earning consistently considerably more and spending it all on the family.''
She also claimed Huhne was ''clearly lying'' about his relationship with Carina Trimingham, below, to get a better divorce settlement after being told the couple had sent joint Christmas cards.
The economist wrote several lengthy emails late at night or in the early hours, then would apologise for them. She later said she was at her ''lowest'' at night.
In one, she wrote: ''Sorry Isabel, bad night last night and I was a bit incoherent'', and in another urged Ms Oakeshott to ignore a garbled message explaining how Huhne had categorically denied the claims to the Mail on Sunday.
But despite their apparently burgeoning friendship Ms Oakeshott found herself out in the cold once the story was published.
Despite asking Pryce on May 12: ''So, what can we write this weekend???? Nothing is not an option, according to my boss...'', the economist severed all contact, going instead to the Mail on Sunday, and Ms Oakeshott did not hear from her again.