Vicky Pryce speeding points trial: Jury discharged after failing to reach verdict
16:03 20 February 2013
The jury in the trial of Chris Huhne’s ex-wife has been discharged after it failed to reach a verdict in her trial for perverting the course of justice.
Vicky Pryce, 60, of Clapham, denied taking her ex-husband’s speeding points a decade ago, claiming Huhne coerced her into taking the points.
The jury of eight women and four men at Southwark Crown Court was discharged after telling trial judge Mr Justice Sweeney it was “highly unlikely” that even a majority verdict would be reached.
Mr Justice Sweeney told the jury: “I have received your note which indicates that it is ‘highly unlikely’ that you are going to reach even a majority verdict.
“I am grateful for that.
“Against the background of the length of time that you have been in retirement already, I have decided therefore, and it is my decision one way or the other, that I must discharge you from any further deliberations.
“That means that your role in this case is now over.”
Pryce, who will now face a retrial, showed little emotion as the judge discharged the jury, sitting with her chin in her hand.
A retrial is anticipated to start on Monday, the court heard, and Huhne, who has already pleaded guilty, will not be sentenced until after that retrial.
Pryce denies perverting the course of justice, claiming a defence of marital coercion, saying Huhne forced her to take the points.
The allegation dates back to 2003, when Huhne’s BMW was clocked speeding on the way from Stansted Airport as the then-MEP travelled back from Strasbourg.
He already had nine points on his licence and risked being banned - which he feared would affect his chances of being nominated as the Lib Dem candidate for Eastleigh, Hampshire.
Pryce, who had a clean licence at the time, said he forced her to take the points, waving a pen at her in their hallway as he forced her to sign a form confirming she committed the offence.
Huhne, 58, lost his licence anyway that year after being caught talking on his mobile phone while driving, the court heard, but went on to be nominated as the Lib Dem candidate for Eastleigh and won the seat in 2005.
The allegation about the speeding points 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, confessing to an affair with PR adviser Carina Trimingham.