Essex: Huhne and Pryce Jailed

Former Cabinet minister Chris Huhne and his ex-wife Vicky Pryce have both been jailed for eight months over a speeding points scandal dating back a decade.

The former couple were handed the sentences at Southwark Crown Court for perverting the course of justice in 2003 when Pryce took speeding points for her then-husband after he was caught speeding on the M11 in Essex.

Huhne, 58, pleaded guilty to the offence on the first day of his trial last month, and Pryce, 60, was convicted after a retrial last week.

Huhne, wearing a dark suit and tie, remained motionless as he became the first former Cabinet minister since Jonathan Aitken to be sent to prison.

Pryce, who wore a black jacket over a silver-grey top, also showed no emotion as she was sent to prison in front of a packed courtroom, which included Huhne's father and partner Carina Trimingham.

Sentencing them trial judge Mr Justice Sweeney said Huhne had lied "again and again". He told Pryce she had a "controlling, manipulative and devious side". And he told the former couple: "To the extent that anything good has come out of this whole process, it is that now, finally, you have both been brought to justice for your joint offence. Any element of tragedy is entirely your own fault."

The former couple sat four feet apart in the dock as the judge handed down their sentences. He told Huhne he was somewhat more culpable for the offence.

"You have fallen from a great height albeit that that is only modest mitigation given that it is a height that you would never have achieved if you had not hidden your commission of such a serious offence in the first place,'' he said. He told the former MP he had committed a "flagrant offence" of its type and said there were no exceptional circumstances.

Turning to Pryce, he told the economist she had been readily persuaded into taking points for her then-husband.

The Crown Prosecution Service is seeking to recover costs from both Huhne and Pryce, and the issue has been adjourned to a hearing at a later date.

Sir Bob Russell, MP for Colchester and the only Liberal Democrat MP in Essex has congratulated police: "It would have been easy for Essex Police not to pursue matters, but they took the right decision to investigate.

"The outcome is there for all to see. I hope the lesson is one which others will take heed of."

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