12 Mar 2013

UK politician and ex-wife jailed for speeding lie

7:24 am on 12 March 2013

Former British energy minister Chris Huhne has been jailed for eight months for lying to police about a speeding offence.

His former wife Vicky Pryce, a prominent economist, also was jailed for eight months for her role in the deception.

Prior to the scandal, the 58-year-old had been seen as a potential leader of the Liberal Democrats, junior partners of the Conservatives in Britain's ruling coalition government, Reuters reports

The pair falsely informed police that Vicky Pryce, 60, was driving Huhne's car when it was caught by a speed camera, so that he could avoid a driving ban.

The incident remained a family secret for years but came back to haunt Huhne after he left Pryce for his mistress, Carina Trimingham, in 2010.

Pryce told two newspapers about the 2003 deception in an act of revenge that landed both Huhne and herself in the dock.

The estranged pair sat side-by-side in the glass-walled dock during the lengthy sentencing hearing, but did not make eye contact. Trimingham sat in the public gallery in the packed courtroom.

Judge Nigel Sweeney said any element on tragedy was the pair's own own fault.

"You have fallen from a great height," he told them. Judge Sweeney said Pryce had been driven by an "implacable desire for revenge".

Huhne resigned as energy secretary in February 2012, when he and Pryce were both charged with perverting the course of justice. He failed in a long legal battle to get the charge against him thrown out.

Huhne initially pleaded not guilty, but a week later, on the morning the trial was due to start, he stunned Britain by changing his plea to guilty.

Pryce pleaded not guilty. She admitted taking Huhne's speeding penalty but put forward an archaic defence of "marital coercion", arguing that Huhne had bullied her into it.

A first jury failed to agree on a verdict on Pryce, but after a retrial a second jury convicted her last Thursday.

Pryce's trial revealed how, after Huhne left her, she spent six months plotting with journalists to try to get the story of the 2003 speeding deception into the papers in a way that would damage Huhne without exposing her. "I definitely want to nail him," Pryce wrote to one journalist in a March 2011 email that was read out in court.