FORMER Eastleigh MP Chris Huhne’s ex-wife Vicky Pryce told the press she took his speeding points in a bid to ‘nail him’ and destroy his career in revenge for him leaving her for another woman, a court heard today.
Former Lib Dem energy secretary Huhne was clocked speeding in March 2003 and persuaded his then wife Pryce to take his points so he could avoid losing his licence.
The news later emerged in national newspapers, sparking a lengthy investigation which, until yesterday, Huhne denied.
Pryce is currently standing trial accused of perverting the course of justice after Huhne dramatically changed his plea to guilty yesterday, ending his political career.
His ex-wife Pryce, 60, denies the charge of perverting the course of justice but has adopted a defence of marital coercion, saying Huhne persuaded her to take the points.
Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC told the jury at Southwark Crown Court in London the points-swapping only came to light in 2010/2011 when Pryce told several newspapers in a bid to ruin her former husband’s career after he left her for his former press adviser Carina Trimingham.
The jury were read emails between Pryce and Sunday Times political editor Isabel Oakeshott - who is due to appear as a prosecution witness on Thursday - in which they discussed how the story could be published and end Huhne’s career.
They also heard four calls Pryce made to Huhne around April 2011, which were recorded with Ms Oakeshott’s help in an unsuccessful bid to get some proof for the story.
Mr Edis told the jury of eight women and four men they would have to decide whether Pryce, an economist and senior civil servant, was ‘weak-minded’ and forced by Huhne into accepting the points or was a ‘strong-minded and manipulative’ woman acting of her own free will.
‘Focus not on whether she was persuaded but whether she was in a situation where she had a choice,’ he said.
He added: ‘Her revenge in the end was to pass the story of the 2003 points to the newspaper so they would publish it and destroy his political career.
‘It was Pryce’s plan that she would get her revenge by putting an end to all that (his career).
‘She would publish what she and he had done together without complaint in 2003 so she would get her revenge for the undoubtedly very bad way he had treated her.’
Eventually, Mr Edis said, her plan worked.
Pryce had earlier also spoken to the Mail on Sunday about the scandal but they had decided not to publish it, the court heard.
In the email exchange from March 1, 2011, Ms Oakeshott suggested a number of pieces run in the Sunday Times including news features and a story at the front of the paper, writing: ‘This is what I strongly recommend you do, given your dual objectives of bringing Chris down, if you can, without seriously damaging your own reputation in the process.’
In a later email she warned Pryce of the danger of facing criminal proceedings if she did reveal that she took his penalty points, and that the newspaper was discussing the issue.
Pryce wrote: ‘I would need some reassurance that it would bring Chris down.’
Later she added: ‘I have no doubt, as I really want to nail him. More than ever actually, and I would love to do it soon.’