Pryce and Huhne face jail after convictions
Vicky Pryce: conviction a new headache for the Lib Dems over claims in seized emails
Disgraced Liberal Democrat minister Chris Huhne and his former wife Vicky Pryce can expect lengthy jail sentences, following her unanimous conviction by a jury yesterday.
The high-profile economist was left visibly shocked in the dock of Southwark Crown Court after the verdict was declared at the end of her retrial on charges that she had perverted the course of justice.
Despite claiming she had been coerced by her husband, the jury found that Pryce (60) had illegally taken penalty points for her then husband in 2003 after he was filmed speeding on a motorway in Essex.
Huhne (58) , the first serving British cabinet minister to be charged with a serious criminal offence in modern times, pleaded guilty last month.
Her conviction has provided new headaches for the Lib Dems because emails seized from her include claims she told senior party figures before the police inquiry began.
The two ended up in court after she set out to destroy his career after he ended their 26-year marriage when he set up home with one of his staff.
Following more than six months of plotting, a story was carried in the Sunday Times saying that Huhne had illegally got someone else to take the penalty points. Her revenge back-fired when a police investigation was opened in May 2011, which eventually led to both facing charges of perverting the course of justice.
Under British law, the two could face life imprisonment. They have been warned by Mr Justice Sweeney that a jail sentence is guaranteed, although legal sources predict three years, rather than life.
The seized Pryce emails include claims that she told Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, wife of Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, and business secretary Vince Cable and his wife, months before the affair became public.
Dr Cable immediately declared that he had no recollection of being told at a dinner in January 2011, while Pryce’s own email said he had “probably forgotten because he was very tired” that evening.
Mr Clegg’s wife, once close to Pryce, said the first she knew that Pryce was alleged to have taken the points was after the trial of the estranged couple began in January.
“I have never, ever been told by Vicky or anybody else about the traffic points story,” she said. “I got to know about this when everybody else did.”
Huhne, who was MEP in 2003, had collected nine penalty points when his car was filmed doing 65mph in a 50mph limit as he rushed back to England for his Commons campaign.
He had feared that publicity about losing his licence would scupper his ambitions to be an MP, although ironically he was later put off the road when he incurred more penalties.
The prosecution had argued that Pryce had embarked on a sophisticated and vicious campaign to settle scores with Huhne.