Vicky Pryce ‘pressured into abortion’ by Huhne

Vicky Pryce. Picture: PA
Vicky Pryce. Picture: PA
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DISGRACED MP Chris Huhne pressured his ex-wife into having an abortion because it was “bad timing”, she told a court today.

Vicky Pryce said she fell pregnant in 1990 while married to the former energy secretary, but he encouraged her to terminate the pregnancy.

Pryce is giving evidence at Southwark Crown Court, in London, where she denies perverting the course of justice by accepting Huhne’s speeding points in 2003.

Breaking down in tears, the mother of five said there were lots of things about her former husband that she could ignore, but one incident stuck out.

“That particular incident is one where I got accidentally pregnant and obviously wanted to keep the baby because it was healthy - in fact, I quite like babies, that’s why I have so many.

“He absolutely resisted it, saying it was bad timing, bad financially, bad for his career to be tied down again.

“And despite my protestations, he got me to have an abortion, which I have regretted ever since.”

Pryce said she thought stories in the press after their break-up suggesting she and Huhne had lived separate lives were an attempt by him to improve his image.

Describing her state of mind at the time, she said: “I was in serious shock and I was grieving of course because I had lost a husband.

“I was trying to see how I could move on.”

Asked if she meant a statement issued in September 2010, in which she said “I wish my husband well”, Pryce said she meant it.

“I had come to the conclusion that there was nothing I could do to change what was happening,” she said.

But she said stories about her appearance at the Lib Dem party conference in 2010, and her description as a “scorned wife” had upset her.

“All I had done was be married to this person,” she told the court.

“I was fragile, very depressed and I have to say what happened at conference made me even more fragile.

“At the same time I had to deal with children who were very depressed themselves and had to cope with it.”

She said some of the children kept in touch with Huhne, others did not, and one even changed his name.

Pryce said she met up with Huhne early in 2011, and hoped they would get back together.

“It was a very, very unpleasant meeting. I had expected there might be some remorse and some attempt to explain what happened; instead I found myself blamed for it all, which was not very pleasant.

“And it was done in a pretty aggressive and bullying way, threatening me for bad-mouthing him supposedly.”

She said Huhne had suggested her employers would be unhappy with her for commenting about him in the press, which she took to be a threat.

“There was no apology for the affair, or about the way we were treated,” she said.

“I still cared for him a lot and I was still hoping he would come back.”

Pryce had lunch with Sunday Times political editor Isabel Oakeshott at a restaurant in Covent Garden, London, on March 1 2011 - the pair had been introduced by Lord Oakeshott at the Lib Dem conference.

“I have to say I had rather liked her when I met her at conference,” she said.

“She seemed to be a sort of soulmate, managing children, work, and I trusted her because she was related to someone who was a very, very good friend of mine.”

Of emails between her and Ms Oakeshott, in which Pryce said she wanted to “nail” Huhne, the economist said: “I am not very proud of those emails, I was definitely in a bit of a state of shock and I thought I had found a soulmate with whom I was discussing personal issues I would not have used anywhere else.”

Pryce said she felt she was being attacked, and that history about her and Huhne’s marriage was being rewritten as it was described as unhappy.

“I felt he was trying from afar to bully me again in just the way he had done when I took those points,” she said.

“I personally never thought he would resign over something like that.

“He is very strong-minded and very little really affects him if he is determined to survive it.”

She said she wanted people to know what his character was like: “He had a very serious position in Cabinet and somehow I felt people didn’t know what he really was like.”

Pryce said she had not divorced Huhne, despite their difficulties, because she put her family first.

She said they celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in 2009, but she later discovered he was already having an affair by that point.

But she said the points swapping remained a bone of contention between them, and she would bring it up in rows.

“It really upset me, I thought it was morally repugnant.”

Pryce, 60, laid bare the circumstances of her public break-up with Huhne in June 2010, describing how he announced he had been having an affair during half time of a world cup football match.

He called her, as he usually would on a Saturday, when she would collect him from the station, but said he needed to speak to her and would be home in 10 minutes.

“He arrived as we got to half-time,” she said.

“He said, ‘I have something to tell you. A newspaper has caught me with a mistress and I have to write a note to say that we are separating’, or words to that effect.

“I was really shocked.”

Pryce asked him how long it had been going on, to which he said it was a year and a half.

She said Huhne told her he had not planned to tell her until their youngest son had gone to university - a year and a half later.

“And then I asked who it was, and he said Carina (Trimingham),” she said.

“You have to forgive me, I have absolutely nothing against gay people, but I knew Carina as a lesbian.

“She had come to the house, she was introduced to me as a lesbian always and had a civil partner, a lady.

“So I said, ‘Carina’, and I have to say I just couldn’t take it seriously. In fact I laughed, because it seemed so preposterous.”

Pryce said she asked when the affair had started and asked if Huhne would step down, to which he said: “No, Robin Cook didn’t have to.”

Her husband told her he had 20 minutes to write a statement, then left the house to go to the gym.

“At no time was there an apology or any concern about what it would mean for us,” she said.

“He ran out, with us (Pryce and her son) following behind, and said, ‘and don’t talk to the papers’.

“We were left with no information about the whole business, and then newspapers descended upon us.”

Pryce described Huhne’s role as “absent” for a lot of the time, especially when he became an MEP.

But she said their marriage was “stable”: “In a marriage you have to compromise and I sort of knew who I married and I knew he had political ambitions.

“It doesn’t mean that the way in which you relate can’t be strained at times if one of the unit is missing.

“I had made it very clear I didn’t want him to be an MEP because of what it would mean and I was absolutely right about its impact.

“There was very little I could do because he was set in his way.”

Pryce - whom the court heard swearing profusely during a phone conversation with Huhne - admitted she swore a lot and shouted a lot, and said that although their marriage was not “bliss”, it was a good marriage.

She said the only issue they had to agree not to discuss was the euro, as she was firmly “anti” it, while her husband supported it.

She said Huhne did not see many people as his “superior” and could be “pretty arrogant”.

But she added: “But I knew how to handle it, basically ignore it. And I compromised.”