Pryce 'Left Voters With Criminal'

The ex-wife of disgraced MP Chris Huhne ''inflicted a criminal'' on voters when she took his speeding points, a court has heard.

Vicky Pryce, 60, is accused of perverting the course of justice by taking the points for her then-husband in 2003, so that he could avoid losing his driving licence.

After the couple split up, Pryce went to the press, initially to reveal only that someone in her family had taken the points.

Today prosecutor Andrew Edis QC told the 60-year-old it was ''poppycock'' that she had ever had voters' interests at heart in going public.

He said: ''This idea that you were working to get this story out there because it was in the interests of democracy...that's just poppycock, isn't it?''

Mr Edis added: ''By doing what you did in 2003, you inflicted a criminal on the voters of Eastleigh.''

Pryce replied: ''On reflection, yes.''

She went on: ''I didn't think it was the right thing for a politician to be doing. But given the circumstances in which it happened, I wasn't going to divorce him or going out to tell the world about this at that stage.''

Pryce told the court that the press coverage unfolded in a way that she had not predicted.

''The can of worms opened in a way that I didn't expect.''

Pryce, of Crescent Grove, Clapham, south London, is facing a retrial at Southwark Crown Court accused of perverting the course of justice, which she denies, claiming marital coercion.

Former energy secretary Huhne earlier pleaded guilty to the offence and will be sentenced after the conclusion of Pryce's retrial, which started on Monday after a previous jury failed to reach a verdict.

Today the court heard that Pryce was ''practically suicidal'' in the wake of her split with Huhne, and that going to the press was ''not a fantastic plan''.

She said: ''At the time I wasn't thinking particularly straight, I was particularly vulnerable, in fact I was practically suicidal.''

Pryce denied that she had caused ''an utter catastrophe'' for her children by going to the press.

Mr Edis said it was ''a calculated course of conduct that was disastrous for your family''.

Ms Pryce replied: ''No, what was disastrous was the break-up, the children have remained very close to me.''

When Mr Justice Sweeney asked her why she had not gone to the police rather than the press, she said: ''On reflection I may well have been better off doing precisely that, but at the time I didn't really want either of us to be prosecuted.''

The trial was adjourned until Friday or Monday.