Disgraced MP Chris Huhne’s ex-wife was today convicted of perverting the course of justice by taking his speeding points a decade ago.
Vicky Pryce, 60, of Crescent Grove, Clapham, south London, was found guilty by a jury of seven men and five women today after a retrial at Southwark Crown Court.
Former energy secretary Huhne pleaded guilty last month to perverting the course of justice by passing his points to Pryce in 2003, ending his political career. Both now face jail.
Pryce looked open-mouthed in shock as the foreman told the court the jury, which retired at 3pm on Tuesday, had reached a unanimous guilty verdict.
Judge Mr Justice Sweeney granted Pryce bail until sentencing, a date for which has not been set, when he will also sentence Huhne.
He told the economist, as he had told Huhne, to be under no illusion of what sentence to expect.
‘Obviously Ms Pryce was present when I indicated to Mr Huhne the inevitable consequences of a conviction for an offence of this sort.
‘She must be under no illusions that my granting of bail indicates any watering down of that provisional approach.’
He thanked the jury for discharging their task ‘assiduously’ in a case which could not have been easy.
Assistant Chief Constable Gary Beautridge, from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, which investigated the offence, said: ‘The conviction of Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce has been achieved through the thorough and steadfast investigation conducted by officers and specialist staff at Essex and Kent Police.
‘Perverting the course of justice is a serious offence.
‘We hope this conviction serves as a timely reminder to motorists who try and avoid driving bans by ‘giving’ their points to others.
‘This practice is not only unlawful, but has life changing consequences for those who get caught flouting the rules.”
A jury in Pryce’s original trial failed to reach a verdict, demonstrating what were described as a deficiencies in understanding, sparking a retrial.
The allegations date back to 2003, when Huhne’s black BMW was clocked speeding on the way back from Stansted Airport as the then-MEP travelled back from Strasbourg.
Huhne already had nine points on his licence and risked a ban, something he feared would ruin his chances of being nominated as the Lib Dem candidate for Eastleigh, Hampshire.
Pryce said he made her take the points, waving a pen at her forcing her to sign a form.
Huhne, now 58, lost his licence anyway later that year for another offence but went on to be nominated as the Lib Dem candidate for Eastleigh, winning the seat in 2005.
The allegation about the points-swapping became public in May 2011 when it was published in two Sunday newspapers - nearly a year after Huhne ended his 26-year marriage to Pryce.
He confessed to an affair with PR adviser Carina Trimingham in June 2010 during half-time of a World Cup football match, after learning he was about to be exposed.
To seek revenge, Pryce - with the help of lawyer and part-time judge Constance Briscoe - embarked on a press campaign to ‘nail’ Huhne.
Briscoe has since been arrested and was dropped from the case as a witness after it emerged she lied to police about her dealings with the press.
The women first approached the Mail on Sunday, falsely claiming Huhne had passed points to constituency aide Jo White.
Pryce went on to reveal the story to Sunday Times political editor Isabel Oakeshott in March 2011 and the women discussed how to ‘nail’ Huhne.
The revelations that Huhne had passed points to ‘somebody’ ran in both the Sunday Times and Mail on Sunday on May 8 2011 and as the story snowballed, it emerged it was Pryce.
Huhne and Pryce were arrested, and in February last year were charged with perverting the course of justice.
Huhne, then energy secretary, stepped down from the Cabinet, vowing to fight the charges.
But when lengthy attempts by his legal team to get the case thrown out failed, he changed his plea on the first day of trial, resigning as Eastleigh MP, ending his once-promising political career.
During her trial Pryce, a mother-of-five, told the court her ex-husband prioritised his political ambitions throughout their marriage, forcing her to compromise her own career.
She revealed in court that Huhne demanded she have an abortion in 1990 because it would be bad for his career, but she went on to resist the same demands two years later, giving birth to their youngest child.
Pryce, who was given glowing testimonials from figures including former head of MI6 Sir John Scarlett, said she had been left fragile by her break-up, and wanted to expose Huhne’s wrongdoing, but not ruin his career.
Her barrister Julian Knowles QC said the prosecution description of her as a ‘tough, armour-plated career woman’ was false.
But prosecutor Andrew Edis QC said Pryce was a capable, manipulative and intelligent woman who acted of her own free will.