UK & World News

  • 11 March 2013, 15:58

Huhne And Pryce In Court For Sentencing

Chris Huhne and his ex-wife are in the dock where they are this afternoon expected to be sent to prison for lying about his penalty points.

The former Cabinet minister, 58, is sitting just one empty chair from Pryce, 60, who exposed the deception to exact revenge after he left her for another woman.

Huhne's girlfriend, Carina Trimingham, who arrived in a bright orange coat, is watching from the public gallery as the hearing unfolds.

The couple, and the politician's former wife of 26 years had to battle through a media scrum as they arrived separately at Southwark Crown Court in London.

Pryce, who was clutching a small, black suitcase, was bizarrely handed a single rose by a bystander as she made her way inside.

She kept the rose with her in the dock, where it could be seen sticking out of her handbag. Huhne too arrived with an overnight bag.

Prosecutors outlined their case against the man who was once one of the leading lights of the Liberal Democrats.

Mr Justice Sweeney is now imminently expected to pass sentence as the lawyers for Huhne and Pryce finish their pleas in mitigation.

He has already made clear they should expect jail terms.

Perverting the course of justice carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, with an average sentence of around 10 months.

Huhne is also facing a hefty legal bill after the Crown Prosecution Service announced plans to recoup the costs of his "sustained challenges" against the prosecution before his 11th-hour guilty plea.

Prosecutors claimed that the way his defence case had been handled was "scandalous", as they revealed their bill for fighting it was £79,000.

The sentencing comes after an ugly and protracted trial which saw Pryce claim she had been coerced into taking speeding points for her husband in 2003.

Huhne admitted lying to police on the first day of the planned joint trial, ending months of denials, but ex-wife continued to claim she was forced.

It was revealed during the court case that Pryce told The Sunday Times about the swap to "nail" her ex-husband after he left her for Ms Trimingham in 2010.

During the trial, she also claimed that the senior Lib Dem had forced her to have an abortion in the 90s - in a bid to show how much influence he had over her.

The wreckage of their marriage was laid bare in court and bitter text messages between Huhne and his youngest son Peter were also disclosed.

Pryce, a prominent economist and mother-of-five, was convicted last week after a retrial. The first trial collapsed when the jury failed to reach a verdict.

The case brought an end to Huhne's once-promising political career. His charge forced him to stand down as energy secretary and his guilty plea prompted his resignation as Eastleigh MP.

Despite the impact of his prosecution on the party, Huhne was lavished with praise at the weekend's Liberal Democrat spring conference.

Party leader Nick Clegg described him as an "effective" and "outstanding" politician.

He told a fringe event on Saturday: "Not only was he an outstanding local constituency MP, he was also an extremely powerful thinker and indeed a very effective secretary of state."

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