Eastleigh MP Chris Huhne's ex-wife today denied perverting the course of justice by taking a speeding penalty for her former husband.

Vicky Pryce pleaded not guilty at Southwark Crown Court today, where she appeared alongside the former energy seretary for a plea and case management hearing.

It is alleged that Huhne persuaded Pryce to take his penalty points for a speeding offence almost a decade ago.

Huhne, who remains the Lib Dem MP for Eastleigh in Hampshire, stood down from Cabinet to fight the charge that he wrongly claimed his wife was driving his car.

Huhne, from Dutton Lane, Eastleigh, and Pryce, from Crescent Grove, Clapham, south London, did not make eye contact with each other during the hearing.

Pryce, who was listed in court by her Greek forename Vasiliki, wore a beige linen jacket and a brown knee-length skirt.

The court heard her defence will be one of marital coercion.

No plea was given by Huhne, who wore a dark suit and maroon polka-dot tie, and the court heard his arraignment was adjourned for an application to dismiss the charge. A provisional trial date has been set for October 2, due to last no more than two weeks.

The events which led to the charges date back to March 2003, when Huhne's car was allegedly caught by a speed camera on the motorway between Stansted Airport in Essex and London.

Accusations of impropriety emerged only in 2010, after the father of five admitted an affair with PR adviser Carina Trimingham and ended his 26-year marriage.

It is alleged that between March 12 2003 and May 21 2003, Pryce falsely informed police that she was the driver of the car, thereby falsely accepting responsibility for the offence so Huhne could avoid prosecution.

Both defendants were released on unconditional bail until a pre-trial hearing on a date to be fixed, probably next month.

Perverting the course of justice carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.