CHRIS Huhne’s ex-wife was “one of the most powerful, talented, intelligent and trusted women in the country” and would not have been forced into taking his speeding points, a court heard today.
Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC said Vicky Pryce had taken points for Huhne in 2003 because she chose to do so, not because she was coerced and she was not someone who could be reduced to a “quivering jelly”.
Pryce denies perverting the course of justice, using a rare defence of marital coercion, at Southwark Crown Court.
Her trial has heard she claimed Huhne first nominated her to take the points so he could avoid losing his licence, and then stood in their hallway waving a pen at her demanding that she sign a form confirming it was her.
Pryce, 60, of Crescent Grove, Clapham, south London, leaked the scandal to newspapers in 2011, after Huhne left her the previous year for PR adviser Carina Trimingham, in a bid to “nail” him, the court heard yesterday.
In his closing speech, Mr Edis said: “One of the most powerful, talented, intelligent and trusted women in the country wishes you to think that when she took some points for her husband in 2003 she had no real choice in doing so.
“There’s no doubt that she took his points, there’s no doubt that that’s a crime.”
Mr Edis continued: “He may have been trying to pressure her, he may have wanted her to do as she did, he may have been very persuasive.
“[But] the question is whether he was able, by things that he did or said, to induce in this woman a state of mind whereby she no longer was able to exercise a free choice about what she did.”
He added that Pryce was not “a woman who is under the thumb of anyone, you are talking about someone who has had a brilliant career because throughout it she has made very good decisions.”
Pryce was also accused of “bare-faced lies” and of “peddling” a false story to freelance journalist Andrew Alderson in order to damage her ex-husband by having revelations published in the Mail on Sunday.
The court heard Pryce met Mr Alderson on November 22, 2010, and told him Huhne bullied constituency aide Jo White into taking points for him, which was later found to be untrue.
Mr Edis said Pryce had a “determined, long-running plan” to bring Huhne down with no damage to herself.
“The plan is to get him without her suffering any harm at all, to strike at him from a very safe distance.
“She had two objectives, to smite him fatally, from a safe distance.”
But he said she had a “Plan B” of claiming she was forced, in case she was exposed as the person who took the points.
“Plan A was to get a story in the papers without her being exposed at all. But just in case the awful truth comes out, there has to be a Plan B.”
He went on to accuse Pryce of telling several lies, including saying she had not wanted to “nail” Huhne.
“These are very bare-faced lies to try to manipulate you, designed to give a false impression about her,” Mr Edis said.
“She is not a vulnerable witness, she knows what she is doing, she is very clever, these lies have a purpose.”
However, Julian Knowles QC, defending, accused the prosecution of stereotyping Ms Pryce’s character, arguing that a person’s success and intelligence did not make them immune to pressure.
The case was adjourned until Wednesday, when the defence’s closing statement is expected to continue.