Huhne ex-wife faces retrial as jury displays 'deficits of understanding'
The London judge in the trial of the former wife of disgraced cabinet minister Chris Huhne has voiced his bafflement at the jury’s inability to understand the case, after he discharged them because they could not reach a verdict after four days of deliberations.
A retrial of Vicky Pryce, who was accused of obstructing justice by illegally taking speeding points incurred by her husband, has been ordered, which is due to begin in Southwark Crown Court next Monday.
Mr Justice Sweeney dismissed the jury after he had received a detailed list of questions, including an explanation of “reasonable doubt” and a query on whether they could base their verdict on a reason that was not presented in court and had no facts or evidence to support it.
In 30 years involved in criminal trials, the judge said he had “never” come across such “absolute fundamental deficits of understanding” demonstrated by the questions, which were handed in to him on Tuesday afternoon.
Ms Pryce admits that she took Mr Huhne’s points in May 2003 after his car was filmed by a speed camera on the motorway as he returned from the European Parliament through Stansted Airport, but she claimed she did so because of marital coercion.
On Tuesday the jury had asked for a definition of the defence of marital coercion and for examples, and whether someone claiming such a defence needed to have been subject to physical violence for it to be accepted.
The eight women and four men on the jury also asked whether an accused’s religious beliefs would be a good enough reason for a woman to believe that she had no choice but to follow the instruction of her husband, if she had promised to obey him in wedding vows.