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Vicky Pryce ‘chose to take Huhne speeding points’

Vicky Pryce: retrial began this week. Picture: Oli Scarff/Getty

Vicky Pryce: retrial began this week. Picture: Oli Scarff/Getty

  • by ELLEN BRANAGH
 

Disgraced MP Chris Huhne’s former wife has been accused of telling “barefaced lies” during her trial for perverting the course of justice.

Prosecutor Andrew Edis, QC said Vicky Pryce was not the kind of person who could be reduced to “quivering jelly” by her then-husband.

Pryce, 60, denies perverting the course of justice by taking speeding points for Huhne in 2003. She has adopted the ­defence of marital coercion, claiming he forced her into it.

During closing speeches at Southwark Crown Court, Mr Edis told jurors yesterday that Pryce tried to destroy Huhne by releasing the story in 2011 after he left her for PR adviser Carina Trimingham in 2010.

He said Pryce had claimed she first revealed the points- swapping to Sunday Times ­political editor Isabel Oakeshott in March 2011, when in fact she was in touch with the Mail on Sunday about it months before.

He accused her of originally trying to “peddle” a false story to the Mail on Sunday, telling a journalist in November 2010 that Huhne had bullied constituency aide Jo White into taking points for him – which was later proved to be untrue.

When this did not work, and the story was not printed, she “changed tack” and met Ms Oakeshott, Mr Edis said.

The prosecutor accused Pryce of telling several lies to jurors, including: denying she had wanted to “nail” Huhne; denying trying to place the story in the Mail on Sunday; and claiming she had not told Ms Oakeshott the story with the aim of it being made public.

“These are very barefaced lies to try to manipulate you, designed to give a false impression about her,” he told the jury.

Mr Edis added that Pryce’s suggestion she did not want to destroy her ex-husband’s ­career was “simply untrue”.

He said: “It is a stage-managed performance for your benefit in the hope that you will leave your ­common sense behind when you come to take a decision in this case.”

Mr Edis said Pryce planned to destroy Huhne with no damage to herself and “to strike at him from a very safe distance”.

Her “plan A” was to get a story in the papers without her being exposed, he said, while “plan B” was to claim she was coerced.

He said Pryce, an economist, was a “powerful, fortunate, clever, affluent” woman who had “real choice” in taking the points. “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. She had a real choice and she exercised it.”

To suggest Pryce had been deprived of a real choice was to “stop living in the real world”, he said. “If she can’t choose what she is doing, who on earth can?”

He told the jury: “Look at who you are trying, because that’s what this case is actually about. Do you really think that there is any prospect of this woman having been reduced to such a quivering jelly that when she signed the form she had no real choice?

“Do you think she is easily reduced to a quivering jelly?”

Pryce’s barrister, Julian Knowles, QC, told the court she had not lied. “It has been suggested that she lied to you time and time and time again,” he said. “The reality is she was in an impossible situation, the solution to which was not ­obvious.”

He told the jury: “Success doesn’t make you immune from unhappiness, success and intelligence don’t make you invulnerable to pressure. It doesn’t give you armour from coercion at home.”

Mr Knowles will continue his closing speech today.

 
 
 

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