Ex-wife of disgraced MP Chris Huhne arrives at court to stand trial over claims she took his speeding points

Ex-wife of disgraced MP Chris Huhne arrives at court to stand trial over claims she took his speeding points Chris Huhne faces jail over scandal that has left his career in tatters
His ex-wife Vicky Pryce denies charge based on 'marital coercion'Huhne's car was caught speeding on M11 near Stansted in March 2003

By
Martin Robinson

PUBLISHED:

10:24 GMT, 5 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

11:07 GMT, 5 February 2013

Trial: Vicky Pryce, ex-wife of Chris Huhne, arrives at Southwark Crown court today where where she is accused perverting the course of justice by taking Huhne's speeding points

Trial: Vicky Pryce, ex-wife of Chris Huhne, arrives at Southwark Crown court today where she is accused perverting the course of justice by taking Huhne's speeding points

Chris Huhne's ex-wife Vicky Pryce has arrived at court to stand trial today over claims she took his speeding points.

The former Cabinet minister is facing jail after he dramatically admitted lying about who was driving his car when it was clocked over the limit near Stansted Airport in March 2003.

After nearly two years proclaiming his innocence and fighting to have the case dropped, Huhne changed his plea at the start of the pair's trial at Southwark Crown Court yesterday, promptly resigning as Liberal Democrat MP for Eastleigh and ending his political career.

The decision, which caused gasps in the hushed courtroom, delayed the start of his ex-wife's hearing until today.

Economist Mrs Pryce, 60, has already pleaded not guilty to perverting the course of justice by taking her then-husband's points and is expected to adopt a defence of marital coercion.

The former Energy Secretary had until yesterday denied a single charge of perverting the course of justice.

He could be called as a witness in the case.

'Having taken responsibility for something I did ten years ago, the only proper course of action for me is now to resign my Eastleigh seat in Parliament', he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he was 'shocked and saddened' by Huhne's conduct but had 'taken the right decision in resigning as an MP'.

Huhne faces between six and 12 months in prison, experts say.

Standing in the dock next to his ex-wife, Liberal Democrat Huhne asked to hear the charge against him again having denied it last week, but this time he replied 'guilty'.

He 'should be under no illusion' about the type of sentence he faces, the judge said after his change of plea.'

The couple separated after 26 years of
marriage in 2010 after Mr Huhne admitted he was having an affair with
his PR adviser Carina Trimingham, 46, who accompanied him to court.

Shamed: Former Energy Secretary Chris Huhne speaks outside court yesterday after admitting his crime and resigning as an MP

Shamed: Former Energy Secretary Chris Huhne speaks outside court yesterday after admitting his crime and resigning as an MP

Carina Trimingham

Moment: A sketch from court yesterday shows Chris Huhne next to his ex-wife Vicky Pryce in the dock at Southwark Crown Court as he told the judge he would now plead guilty as his partner Carina Trimingham (centre right) watched in the background

The events which led to the case date
back to March 12, 2003 when Mr Huhne’s car was caught by a speed camera
on the M11 near Stansted Airport.

He
was accused of trying to cheat justice by stating that Mrs Pryce was at
the wheel instead of himself when the offence took place.Mrs Pryce, a
former Government economics advisor, accepted the fine and three points
on her licence.

Mother-of-five
Mrs Pryce, of Clapham, south-west London, is represented by Julian
Knowles QC, a member of the same chambers as Cherie Blair.

The trial, overseen by Mr Justice Sweeney, is expected to last up to two weeks.

Both are on unconditional bail.

Trial: Lib Dem MP Chris Huhne and his partner Carina Trimmington arrive at Southwark Court for the first day of his Trial yesterday, where he pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice

Trial: Lib Dem MP Chris Huhne and his partner Carina Trimmington arrive
at Southwark Court for the first day of his Trial yesterday, where he pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice

Texts read to the court yesterday revealed the
rotten relationship Huhne has with his son Peter after his affair and
lying to avoid a driving ban.

The messages showed Huhne's efforts to speak to his son, then 18, and Peter's desperation that his father admit what he had done.

'We all know that you were driving and you put pressure on Mum. Accept it or face the consequences. You’ve told me that was the case. Or will this be another lie' he said.

Huhne replied: 'I have no intention of sending Mum to Holloway Prison for three months. Dad'

But his son responded: “Are you going to accept your responsibility or do I have to contact the police and tell them what you told me'

As the relationship deteriorated Peter sent a string of expletive-filled messages to his then MP father
calling him a 'fat piece of s***' and telling him to 'f*** off' when he
tried to contact him or told him he loved him.