UK
01/05/2014 18:44 BST | Updated 01/05/2014 18:59 BST

Chris Huhne Speeding Points Scandal: Costance Briscoe Convicted Of Perverting Course Of Justice

A barrister and part-time judge is facing jail after being found guilty of lying to police investigating the Chris Huhne speeding points scandal.

Constance Briscoe was accused of trying to pervert the course of justice in connection with the investigation into how the disgraced Cabinet minister passed speeding points to his then-wife Vicky Pryce a decade ago.

Briscoe, 56, of Clapham, south London, has been suspended since her arrest in October 2012 and could now be barred from sitting as a judge.

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Constance Briscoe lied to police investigating the Chris Huhne speeding points scandal

Following her conviction, it emerged she is also facing a criminal investigation into allegations that she fraudulently obtained documents used to defend libel claims brought against her by her mother, Carmen Briscoe-Mitchell, who sat in the court throughout her daughter's Old Bailey trial.

Briscoe stood impassively in the dock as the jury found her guilty of all three counts of intending to pervert the course of justice after just five hours of deliberations.

Adjourning sentencing until Friday, Mr Justice Baker warned her: "It's almost inevitable there will be a custodial sentence."

Mr Huhne, who was forced to resign over the speeding points scandal, released a statement in which he described Briscoe as a "compulsive and self-publicising fantasist".

He declared: "British justice is likely to be a lot fairer with Briscoe behind bars. If I had not forced the disclosure that was then used to convict Briscoe, she would never have been brought to justice."

He said: "If she can make up the witness statements used as the key evidence against me, she is clearly capable of hiding evidence she should have disclosed to the defence in the many cases that she prosecuted for the Crown Prosecution Service.

"Aggrieved defendants will now seek a CPS review."

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Chris Huhne described Briscoe as a 'self-publicising fantasist' after the verdict

But the CPS said there were no plans to review any of Briscoe's cases as prosecution counsel and Huhne's claim was incorrect.

A CPS spokesperson said: "This assumption is wrong and based on a misunderstanding of the disclosure process. While external counsel might be asked to provide advice or to view material, the final decision on what must be disclosed to the defence lies with the CPS and is overseen by a CPS in-house lawyer."

Detective Inspector John McDermott, of Kent Police, welcomed the verdict, saying it showed no one was "above the law".

He said: "In her roles as a recorder judge and as a barrister, if anyone should understand the importance of preserving public justice, it should be Constance Briscoe."

"The overwhelming evidence uncovered by officers meant the jury had no choice but to find Ms Briscoe guilty. Today shows that no one is above the law and perverting the course of justice is a serious offence."

The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) announced it would be preparing a report on whether Briscoe should be removed from the judiciary.

A spokeman said: "Following today's verdict at the Central Criminal Court, the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office will invite Ms Briscoe to make representations as to why she should not be removed from the judiciary.

"A report will then be submitted to the Lord Chief Justice and Lord Chancellor for their consideration."

Briscoe was unanimously found guilty on all charges. The first alleged that Briscoe provided police with two inaccurate statements and the second that she produced an altered copy of a statement but claimed it was the correct version.

A third charge alleged she deliberately got a document expert to view the wrong version of her witness statement.

Briscoe stood trial at London's Southwark Crown Court in January but a jury failed to reach verdicts on any of the counts.

Jurors were told that Briscoe helped economist Ms Pryce, who was a friend and also her neighbour, to reveal information about Mr Huhne's points-swapping to newspapers after the couple split in 2010.

The scandal led to Mr Huhne's resignation and subsequent prosecution.

He pleaded guilty in February last year, while Ms Pryce was convicted after a trial.

Both have now served jail sentences.