Vicky Pryce was shocked and horrified, and "wanted to turn the clock back", when the story about Chris Huhne getting someone to take his speeding points hit the headlines, she told a court today.
The former Cabinet minister's ex-wife said she felt "ashamed and upset" when the story appeared on the front page of the Sunday Times on May 8 2011, and wanted nothing more to do with it.
It later emerged that it was Pryce who had taken the points. Huhne finally admitted lying about the matter this week, but his former wife denies perverting the course of justice, claiming marital coercion.
Pryce, 60, who yesterday revealed that Huhne once bullied her into having an abortion, told Southwark Crown Court he made her take the points in a "fait accompli" in 2003.
She first revealed the offence to Sunday Times political editor Isabel Oakeshott over a lunch many years later, in March 2011.
Pryce said today that the revelation got Ms Oakeshott "excited" as she planned how to run the story in the newspaper.
The pair agreed that the claims would be made through an interview with Pryce, and an agreement was put in place in a bid to protect the economist.
But Pryce told the court today that she was shocked and horrified to see the story on the front page, and that it included details which could reveal her as the person who took the points.
"I felt actually that I was already being exposed," she said.
"I was a bit shocked and horrified and of course started worrying very significantly about the whole process that led to this article.
"So in many ways I just wanted to turn the clock back and not have anything to do with it."
She added: "I was quite shocked about the way that the information had come out and I was beginning to feel that actually I had been perhaps manipulated in a way and that things had probably been pushed too far."
She told the court she decided not to deal with the Sunday Times again after that.
"I had actually been quite upset about the front page and also in the end the article coming out because clearly there was already a lot of interest from the press and I felt actually pretty bad and really not happy with having been involved in any of this.
"Mostly I felt I wished really to have nothing to do with it if I could and felt quite ashamed and upset."
Pryce said when she made four calls to Huhne, recorded in a bid to catch him admitting the offence, her main aim was to find out who was leaking information suggesting she was the one who took his points.
Asked about her motives for taking the scandal to the press, she said: "I wanted the story to go in the newspapers in the right way and because I wanted the story explained in the right way.
"If I had wanted to ruin my husband at the time I could have thought of lots of other things to expose publicly."
Asked in cross-examination by prosecutor Andrew Edis QC: "You are a very experienced, clever, powerful woman, aren't you?", she replied: "I wouldn't call myself powerful."
She said that, despite causing the media storm by revealing the story to the newspapers, her family "came first".
"It certainly came first as well in 2003 when I actually signed the piece of paper," she said.
"2010 was a very difficult circumstance when the family had really been torn apart and where the person they were relying on, who was me, was actually very fragile.
"I am not proud of what happened. Now of course I would never ever have gone down that road.
"I did not perhaps behave rationally, there's no doubt about that."
She said she did not expect the fall-out of the revelations to be as strong and followed up to the extent that it was.
"I was not experienced in that respect, I was not a journalist or a PR person or a politician. I was simply a vulnerable person at the time.
"I was shocked about what happened afterwards; in fact I was so shocked that I went into hiding with one of my children.
"And in fact, despite it all, we all kept together very, very close.
"I apologised to them straight afterwards and they have been very supportive of me ever since.
"I was not probably thinking straight at the time, there's no doubt about it.
"It was a very, very tough time for me and also for the rest of my family and I did things which I am not proud of."
The court heard that several high-profile figures wrote glowing testimonials about Pryce.
John Scarlett, former head of MI6, said she was "exceptionally well-informed and of good judgment", adding: "I regard her a person of clear integrity in whom I have confidence."
Former senior civil servant John Gieve said Pryce was "highly organised and energetic and confident and fits more into her diary than most would find possible", while Baron Stern of Brentford described her as "an excellent economist, administrator and manager and very professional in all her activities".
"She is a fine human being, extraordinarily kind, helpful, trustworthy and reliable."
Pryce denied a six-month campaign to try to get the story in the newspapers, having already spoken to the Mail on Sunday in November 2010.
The court heard she met a freelance journalist who was providing a story to the newspaper, and told him Huhne forced constituency aide Jo White to take points for him.
"I did give him a name, a Jo White, which was an aide of my husband's at the time, as somebody who I had been told by my husband had taken his points."
She had previously revealed that when Huhne demanded she take his points in 2003, he said an aide had already done something similar.
Pryce said it never crossed her mind how inconvenient it would be for her if Huhne lost his licence - she later spoke of having to drive him around for months.
"It did not even enter my head at the time what the consequences of him losing his licence would be on me driving him around," she said.
Mr Edis suggested the only reason Pryce described Huhne standing in the hallway with a pen - something she did not describe to Ms Oakeshott or the Mail on Sunday, or to police - was because her defence of marital coercion requires a husband to be physically present.
But the 60-year-old said: "In fact it's probably one of my strongest memories of this whole sad affair, him standing at the hallway table, lots of paper around and the form, and being made to sign, so I am afraid it's absolutely true."
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