Vicky Pryce jury still debating verdict in perverting the court of justice trial

Vicky Pryce

Vicky Pryce

First published in Crime
Last updated

The jury in the trial of former Eastleigh MP Chris Huhne's ex-wife has retired to continue its deliberations.

Vicky Pryce, 60, is charged with perverting the course of justice by taking the disgraced politician's speeding points in 2003.

The economist denies the charge, claiming she was coerced by Huhne so he could avoid losing his licence.

The jury in her trial at Southwark Crown Court in London retired on Thursday and, after not sitting on Friday, returned today to continue considering its verdict.

Huhne, 58, pleaded guilty to the offence on the first day of their trial, which prompted his resignation as an MP.

Pryce's defence of marital coercion requires that he was present when her will was ''overborne'' into taking the points.

The jury of eight women and four men have to decide whether the prosecution has proved Huhne did not coerce Pryce.

The charges date back to 2003 when Huhne's BMW was clocked speeding on the way back from Stansted Airport.

He already had nine points on his licence and thought that if he was banned it would affect his chances of being nominated as the Lib Dem candidate for Eastleigh.

Pryce, who had a clean licence at the time, said he forced her to take the points, nominating her as the driver and then making her sign a second form confirming she was.

Huhne lost his licence anyway that year, the court heard, after being caught talking on his mobile phone while driving.

But he was nominated as the candidate and went on to win the Eastleigh seat in 2005.

The points-swapping allegations became public in May 2011 - a year after Huhne left Pryce for PR adviser Carina Trimingham, ending their 26-year marriage.

Pryce spoke to journalists for several months before the story was published on May 8, the court heard, originally trying to ''peddle'' a false tale about a constituency aide taking points for Huhne to the Mail on Sunday in late 2010.

When that did not work, she spoke to Sunday Times political editor Isabel Oakeshott in March 2011, planning to ''nail'' the politician and trying unsuccessfully to record him confessing.

The story ran in both newspapers on May 8 2011, sparking a police investigation and Huhne and Pryce were charged in February last year.

The then-energy secretary stepped down from the Cabinet, denying the charges.

His lawyers tried to get the case thrown out but, when that failed, Huhne changed his plea on the first day of trial.

He resigned as MP for Eastleigh that day, ending a once-promising political career.

During the trial, mother-of-five Pryce described how he put his political career first throughout their marriage, and revealed that he demanded she have an abortion in 1990.

He tried the same thing two years later, the court heard, but she resisted, giving birth to their youngest child.

Huhne left Pryce in June 2010, confessing to an 18-month affair with Ms Trimingham when it was about to be exposed by a newspaper.

Pryce, 60, of Crescent Grove, Clapham, south London, said she was left fragile and broken by the revelation, leading her to leak the story to the newspapers.

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