JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

The Pryce of revenge

Date

Gordon Rayner, Sam Marsden and Martin Evans

A family torn apart, two careers ruined and a previously happy couple each facing a jail sentence. Vicky Pryce's battle to bring down her unfaithful ex-husband, Chris Huhne, ends in disaster for both of them

Guilty ... Vicky Pryce leaves Southwark Crown Court in London.

Guilty ... Vicky Pryce leaves Southwark Crown Court in London. Photo: Reuters

Almost 30 years after they stood at the altar, Vicky Pryce and Chris Huhne will be side by side for one last time later this month, as two criminals awaiting sentence after their public battle ended in disaster.

Both are likely to be jailed after Pryce was convicted on Thursday of perverting the course of justice following Huhne's guilty plea to the same offence, giving them plenty of time to reflect on the destructive power of hatred.

He saw a simple way out of his bind by asking his wife, who had a clean licence, to take the points for him, and set in train the series of events that ended a decade later with both of them facing jail 

Pryce's hunger for revenge after her husband left her for another woman was supposed to bring his career as UK politician crashing down by exposing a speeding points scam, while leaving her to bask in his comeuppance.

Chris Huhne ... likely to be jailed.

Chris Huhne ... likely to be jailed. Photo: Getty Images

Instead, her determination to "nail" the former energy secretary, as well as his attempts to cheat justice, created a whirlwind of toxic allegations that sucked in all those close to them, including their children whose loathing of Huhne was exposed painfully to public view day after day in court.

It has also emerged that Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, and Miriam Clegg, the wife of the Deputy Prime Minister, have been dragged into the affair because of what they did or did not know about Huhne's wrongdoing, while Constance Briscoe, one of the country's first female black judges, could herself be tried over allegations that she lied to police about her part in exposing Huhne's crime.

All of them could have been spared if Huhne and Pryce had owned up to the fact that they agreed to lie about who was driving Huhne's car to help him avoid a driving ban when he was caught speeding in 2003.

Affair ... Vicky Pryce, who married Chris Huhne, right, in 1984, was devastated in 2010 when he told her he had been having a relationship with his bisexual aide, Carina Trimingham, right.

Affair ... Vicky Pryce, who married Chris Huhne, right, in 1984, was devastated in 2010 when he told her he had been having a relationship with his bisexual aide, Carina Trimingham, right. Photo: Getty Images

Instead Pryce, 60, and Huhne, 58, fought each other every inch of the way, using their children as pawns in their legal cases. Pryce told the world she had agreed to an abortion, and that her husband had wanted to abort their son Peter, now 20, in an attempt to win sympathy, while Huhne insisted on a series of deeply personal text messages between him and his son being admitted as evidence as he tried to avoid trial. Both of them failed.

On Thursday a jury of seven men and five women at Southwark Crown Court in London convicted Pryce unanimously of perverting the course of justice after 11 hours of deliberations following a retrial. The previous jury had been unable to reach a verdict.

Pryce opened her mouth wide in surprise as the verdict was delivered, but composed herself quickly as Mr Justice Sweeney bailed her and warned her to expect jail when she returned to court.

"Obviously Ms Pryce was present when I indicated to Mr Huhne the inevitable consequences of a conviction for an offence of this sort," the judge said. "She must be under no illusions that my granting of bail indicates any watering down of that provisional approach."

Pryce stood next to her solicitor, Robert Brown, outside court as he read a statement on her behalf. He said she was "very disappointed" with the verdict and thanked "all those who have supported her during this difficult period, particularly her friends and children".

Huhne, who pleaded guilty last month on the day his trial was due to start, will be sentenced alongside his former wife later this month. Perverting the course of justice carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, though the average jail term for the offence is 10 months.

Huhne's ill-fated efforts to get the charges against him thrown out have already cost him up to £250,000 ($375,000), and on Thursday the Crown Prosecution Service said it would pursue him for its own costs of about £100,000.

Malcolm McHaffie, the deputy head of special crime at the CPS, said: "Chris Huhne made sustained challenges against the prosecution before pleading guilty at the last minute. This was expensive for the CPS and we will be applying for costs."

Pryce used the defence of marital coercion, claiming she had no choice but to bow to her husband's demands over the speeding ticket.

She may end up becoming the last person to use such a defence. During a pre-trial hearing, the prosecutor Andrew Edis QC said that a "seismic change" in society's approach to gender equality since the defence was enshrined in law in 1925 meant that it had become an "absurd" anomaly that was likely to be abolished.

Previously undisclosed emails between Pryce and a Sunday Times journalist show that the Greek-born economist had claimed she told Mr Cable and his wife that Huhne had committed a crime before the matter became public.

Pryce claimed that the couple were "horrified" when she told them about the points swap two years ago, but last night they both strongly denied knowing anything.

Pryce also claimed she had told Nick Clegg's wife that Huhne had "something" hanging over him. Mrs Clegg has also denied the claim.

Pryce, who married Huhne in 1984, was devastated in 2010 when he told her he had been having an affair with his bisexual aide, Carina Trimingham, 46, and was moving in with her.

As she plotted her revenge, Pryce discussed tipping off newspapers with her friend and neighbour, Miss Briscoe, who discussed the matter with a Sunday newspaper but is alleged to have lied on a police witness statement by saying she had no contact with the media over the affair. It led to her arrest on suspicion of perjury last year. She has not been charged and remains on police bail.

Huhne was an MEP and regarded as a rising star in the Liberal Democrats when he was clocked at 69mph in a 50mph zone on the M11 in Essex in March 2003.

He already had nine penalty points on his licence and so faced an automatic driving ban, which would have jeopardised his chances of winning the nomination as the Lib Dem candidate for Eastleigh in Hampshire. He saw a simple way out of his bind by asking his wife, who had a clean licence, to take the points for him, and set in train the series of events that ended a decade later with both of them facing jail.

A lengthy exchange of emails given to the jury also showed the extent to which Pryce was prepared to go to avoid being caught.

She at first claimed falsely that the person who had taken speeding points on Huhne's behalf was a Liberal Democrat activist called Jo White, but had to change her story after it became clear that Miss White did not have a driving licence.

In the emails Pryce also told a journalist that Huhne, a multi-millionaire, had not made his fortune by selling a public relations company and investing in property, but had made a series of "dodgy investments".

She also claimed that for almost their entire marriage she was the main breadwinner, with her husband relying on her much larger income as he pursued his careers in journalism and politics.

The Telegraph, London

Featured advertisers

Special offers

Credit card, savings and loan rates by Mozo