UK & World News

  • 7 February 2013, 19:49

Pryce: 'Huhne Forced Me To Take Speed Points'

Recordings of a series of phone calls in which Chris Huhne's ex-wife Vicky Pryce tried to get the disgraced MP to admit that she had taken his speeding points have been made public.

Audios of the exchanges - recorded with the help of Sunday Times political editor Isabel Oakeshott to get him to admit the points-swapping - were released on Thursday.

Huhne did not admit to the offence in the phone calls.

The 58-year-old has already pleaded guilty to lying to police about who was driving. He has resigned as an MP and faces jail.

Pryce is on trial over allegations that she took the speeding points for the former energy secretary.

She told jurors she had "no choice" but to take the driving penalty for him back in 2003, and denies perverting the course of justice on the grounds of marital coercion.

Pryce insisted she took the points only because Huhne had already named her as the driver without her knowledge and presented it as a "fait accompli".

The Lib Dem wanted to avoid losing his licence because he was worried it would affect his chances of selection as a prospective parliamentary candidate, she said.

Pryce said she had refused when the politician first asked her to take the points after receiving a letter from police.

"I had absolutely no wish to take on his points because I knew full well he was a very, very fast driver and very often ignored speed limits and had brought it on himself," she told Southwark Crown Court.

They argued for "a number of days" before it "went quiet" until another letter came, which showed the police had now been told she was driving, she said.

"It looked as if suddenly these points were addressed to me as the person who had been nominated as the driver of that vehicle. I exploded," Pryce said.

"I said 'I am not doing this, I am not signing anything, these are not my points.'"

She said she left the letter in the hallway "abandoned" on the table where it lay for a couple of days before she was called downstairs to sign it.

"My husband was standing by the form ... with a pen in his hand, saying 'You have absolutely got to sign that. If you don't, the implications will be considerable," she claimed.

Pryce said her name had already been filled in and she just had to sign.

She told the jury: "I had no choice at the time because he was standing there saying 'This is it, this is the nomination form, you have got to sign this now'.

"I looked at this and realised I had absolutely no choice. I was already nominated. It looked like a complete fait accompli for me and for him.

"I had been worn down over a period of time and it looked to me like it was the only thing I could possibly do.

"It didn't look to me like I had any choice at all in the matter so I took this pen and signed, protesting all the time, but I did it."

As she spoke about their 26-year marriage, she also claimed the politician forced her to have an abortion in 1990 because it was "bad timing" to have a baby.

The 60-year-old broke down in tears as she made the dramatic revelation.

She said: "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 had two sons and a daughter with Huhne in the 1980s and 1990s and has two daughters from her first marriage.

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

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

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

"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," she said.

Pryce said she asked when the affair had started and asked if Huhne would step down, to which he replied: "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.

Earlier, Ms Oakeshott told how Pryce first revealed the points swap bombshell - "slightly under her breath" - when they had lunch in March 2011.

The pair later agreed they could reveal the truth in the newspaper as part of an interview with Pryce, where they would discuss the Westminster rumours.

The mother-of-five had been "very, very unhappy" at going along with his lie" and "felt that she had been put into an impossible situation by doing so", Ms Oakeshott said.

The court has already heard how Pryce told the journalist in an email that she wanted to "nail" her ex-husband because she was furious he had left her for another woman.

Ms Oakeshott said it was Pryce's idea to record the politician on the phone to try and goad him into admitting his crime - recordings of which have been played to the court.

The economist was conscious of the risk she could face prosecution and an agreement was drafted to protect her ahead of publication.

Ms Oakeshott described her as a "fragile" woman whose emotions would "go up and down a lot" and who wore her image of a businesswoman in heels and a suit as a sort of "armour".

The trial continues.

 

 

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