Chris Huhne, the former British Energy Secretary and one of the Liberal Democrat party’s most senior figures has been sentenced to eight months in prison for perverting the course of justice. His ex-wife Vicky Pryce was also sentenced to eight months. She took driving penalty points for her then husband in 2003.
The judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, said it was “all too easy to” to swap penalty points but it amounts to the serious crime of perverting the course of justice. He told the pair that “any element of tragedy” was completely their own fault.
The costs of prosecuting Huhne amounted to £79,000 (90,000 euros) and for Pryce £38,000 (43,500 euros). The Crown Prosecution Service is trying to get the costs reimbursed by the defendants. The police incurred £31,000 (35,500 euros) in costs.
Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Malcolm McHaffie said: “Chris Huhne made sustained challenges against the prosecution before pleading guilty at the last minute. This was expensive for the CPS and we will be applying for costs.”
The spectacular downfall of the couple stems from an incident in 2003 when Mr Huhne, then a Member of the European Parliament was caught on a speed camera driving over the lefal limit in his BMW. Ms Pryce was alleged to have informed the police that she was the driver of the car in order to prevent Huhne being prosecuted and losing his driving licence as the offence would have taken him over the maximum number of penalty points.
The scandal is likely to end Mr Huhne’s polictical career. He resigned earlier as a cabinet minister and Member of Parliament over the affair.
It is yet another blow to the junior partner in the government coalition that has been in power in the UK since 2010. The Liberal Democrats have been sliding down the opinion polls. At the party’s last spring conference Lib Dem leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg sang Mr. Huhne’s praises, calling him an “effective and outstanding politician”.
Huhne, 58, and Pryce, 60, were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court.