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Vicky Pryce Trial: Chris Huhne Could Not Reduce Wife To 'Quivering Jelly' Says Prosecutor

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Chris Huhne's ex-wife was "one of the most powerful, talented, intelligent and trusted women in the country" and would not have been forced into taking his speeding points, a court has heard.

Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC said Vicky Pryce had taken points for Huhne in 2003 because she chose to do so, not because she was coerced and she was not someone who could be reduced to a "quivering jelly".

Pryce denies perverting the course of justice, using a rare defence of marital coercion, at Southwark Crown Court.

vicky pryce

Vicky Pryce, the ex-wife of Chris Huhne, arrives at Southwark Crown Court

Her trial has heard she claimed Huhne first nominated her to take the points so he could avoid losing his licence, and then stood in their hallway waving a pen at her demanding that she sign a form confirming it was her.

Pryce, 60, of Crescent Grove, Clapham, south London, leaked the scandal to newspapers in 2011, after Huhne left her the previous year for PR adviser Carina Trimingham, in a bid to "nail" him, the court has heard.

In his closing speech, Mr Edis today said: "The position is this. One of the most powerful, talented, intelligent and trusted women in the country wishes you to think that when she took some points for her husband in 2003 she had no real choice in doing so.

"It is the prosecution's function, if they can, to disprove that before she can be convicted.

"There's no doubt that she took his points, there's no doubt that that's a crime.

"It's only not a crime in her case if the special defence available to wives - marital coercion - applies in her case and it applies in her case if the prosecution fail to make you sure of two things.

"First, that the offence was committed voluntarily, that is to say, she had choices available to her. She had not had her 'will overborne' by pressure from her husband.

"He may have been trying to pressure her, he may have wanted her to do as she did, he may have been very persuasive, but that isn't what this case is actually about.

"The question is whether he was able, by things that he did or said, to induce in this woman a state of mind whereby she no longer was able to exercise a free choice about what she did.

"That is not just deciding to do something for an easy life against your better judgment which you would rather not do, because we all do that a lot of the time, not necessarily commit crimes."

He said the prosecution could prove that Pryce took the points because she chose to do so.

"She had a real choice and she exercised it in the way that she did," he told the court.

"You are trying Professor Vicky Pryce, a person who is well used to taking important decisions and actually founded a company whose whole business was to give ethical advice to people who were faced with difficult decisions so that they would do the right things even when the wrong thing would be the easier thing to do.

"You are not talking at the time of a woman who is under the thumb of anyone, you are talking about someone who has had a brilliant career because throughout it she has made very good decisions."

Pryce has claimed she was forced into constantly compromising her own career so Huhne could pursue his, and told the court he twice tried to bully her into having an abortion - successfully in 1990, but she resisted two years later.

But Mr Edis said suggesting Pryce was someone deprived of choice was to "stop living in the real world".

He added: "Such a person may take a decision to commit a crime because she thinks it will never be discovered and because it is the easier way.

"But to describe such a person as having been deprived of real choice is to stop living in the real world.

"If she can't choose what she is doing, who on earth can?

"If she was 20 years old, with no independent income, children who were dependant on her husband's income and if she was habitually bullied and threatened and put in fear, well you might think that such a person would deserve the special treatment that wives in our law are given. But not her."

He told the jury: "Look at who you are trying because that's what this case is actually about.

"Do you really think that there is any prospect of this woman having been reduced to such a quivering jelly that when she signed the form she had no real choice.

"Do you think she is easily reduced to a quivering jelly?

"You saw how she dealt with me. Is she the quivering jelly kind? No, she isn't.
"Is she the sort of person who can stand her ground and take her own choice? Yes, she is."

He said the jury may find the mother-of-five had tried to pull the wool over their eyes by suggesting the first contact she had with newspapers was a lunch with Sunday Times political editor Isabel Oakeshott on March 1, 2011.

The court has heard that Pryce, helped by friend, lawyer and part-time judge Constance Briscoe, was in contact with the Mail on Sunday months before as she tried to get the story out about the points-swapping.

Mr Edis said Pryce taking Huhne's points was a "useful family arrangement" at the time - saying it was in her interests for Huhne to win the Eastleigh seat as it would mean he would stop travelling to Strasbourg as an MEP.

The court has heard Huhne was ultimately banned anyway, because he had been caught using his mobile phone whilst driving on March 28, 2003 and Pryce had to drive him around.

"The easy way all round is for him to keep his licence," Mr Edis said, "for both of them actually, it works".

He said Pryce did not know Huhne had been caught on his phone and would be banned anyway, adding: "She would have thought that if she did take these points, he would keep his licence and that's something that they both wanted.

"Generally speaking when two powerful and clever, affluent people decide on a course of action that benefits both of them, you may decide that they both do that with their eyes open."

The prosecutor said Pryce had decided to blame Huhne for the whole affair to get revenge for him leaving her.

"She has never, even to this day, got over that," he said.

"Having heard what happened, anybody would understand anger, distress, betrayal and a desire for revenge. This is all quite normal."

He also said, by blaming Huhne, Pryce could absolve herself of any blame.

"Putting all the blame on him has the function of getting revenge but it has another function, it means she can
get her revenge but it's a free ride.

"She brings him down and protects herself, ultimately which has been her plan since she first approached the Mail on Sunday on November 22, 2010."

Mr Edis said although the case was about what happened in 2003, when Pryce took the points, what happened in 2010 and 2011, when she was revealing the story to the press, "mattered greatly".

"It matters and it matters greatly because of the way that Vicky Pryce has chosen to present herself to you.

"Because in fact her contact revealed by the emails and the evidence of Isabel Oakeshott shows that she was trying for some reason to pull the wool over your eyes, to mislead you, and if that's the case that fundamentally undermines her credibility."

He said the suggestion that Pryce naively revealed the points-swapping to Ms Oakeshott during the second lunch they had together was "absurd".

"She told Isabel Oakeshott about the points because she wanted it to get into the papers, and she wanted it to get into the papers because she wanted to nail Chris Huhne," he said.

He said Pryce's suggestion that she did not want to destroy her ex-husband's career was "simply untrue".

"It is a stage-managed performance for your benefit in the hope that you will leave your common sense behind you when you come to take a decision in this case."

He said Pryce embarked on a press campaign to destroy Huhne, telling the jury: "The idea of this press campaign is to destroy him without getting her to the point where she is sitting now."

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