Wife ruined British minister's career over affair, court hears

Tue Feb 5, 2013 12:41pm EST
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(Advisory: Note strong language in paragraph 20)

By Estelle Shirbon

LONDON (Reuters) - The wife of a British cabinet minister plotted with newspapers to wreck his career because she wanted revenge after he left her for another woman, a London court heard on Tuesday.

Vicky Pryce, 60, went on trial for perverting the course of justice over a 2003 incident in which she took the penalty for a speeding offence committed by her then husband, Liberal Democrat politician Chris Huhne, to allow him to avoid a driving ban.

Huhne, 58, pleaded guilty to a charge of perverting the course of justice on Monday in connection with the same events in 2003. He is likely to be sentenced to a term in jail.

Huhne resigned as energy secretary a year ago when he and Pryce were charged. He had been seen as a possible successor to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg as Liberal Democrat party leader but his guilty plea has ruined his political career.

Huhne and Pryce, whose 26-year marriage ended in 2010 when he admitted to an affair, had been expected to stand trial together for falsely informing police in 2003 that she, not he, had been driving his car when it was flashed by a speed camera.

Pryce now faces trial alone. She has pleaded not guilty on the basis that she did take Huhne's penalty but was not to blame because he had used "marital coercion" to make her do it.

Prosecutor Andrew Edis rejected that, arguing that Pryce, an economist who held a senior civil service post at the time, was not a "weak-minded woman" who could be bullied.   Continued...

Vicky Pryce, the ex-wife of Britain's former energy secretary Chris Huhne, arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London February 5, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer