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Thursday 7 March 2013

The Pryce Of Crime

Never, but never, go running to the press when the story involves you, and certainly not if it sucks in your family. That lesson had already been learned many times before Chris Huhne’s former wife Vicky Pryce, possibly aided and abetted by her friend Constance Briscoe, touted her account of having taken his speeding points round those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet.

He can't hear you. Any of you

Ms Pryce was not stuck for a few bob: her purpose was revenge. She stated unequivocally that she wanted tonail” Huhne, and the sooner the better. This expedition may have led to the Mail On Sunday, which might have been interesting, given the boiling hatred of Paul Dacre for anyone in the Lib Dems. But she settled on an alliance with the Murdoch press.

Sunday Times political editor Isabel Oakeshott was most interested in the story, telling Ms Pryce “The bottom line is that this story will bring Chris down if you are prepared to go on the record, with the minor risk this carries”. Whether Ms Oakeshott had her response passed by the paper’s lawyers is not known, and after today’s events its influence on its recipient may mean trouble for Rupe’s upmarket troops.

Because today the second jury to hear the case found Ms Pryce guilty – the verdict was unanimous – and, as she pleaded otherwise, unlike Huhne who changed his plea to guilty as his trial started, the likelihood of a jail sentence for perverting the course of justice is stronger. On top of that, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is talking of wanting costs to be added to any judgment.

Much right now is being made of Ms Pryce’s assertions that she alerted various senior Lib Dem figures to Huhne’s donation of speeding points, but given she’s just been found guilty, and the figures mentioned – Nick Clegg, his wife, Vince Cable and Matthew Oakeshott (third cousin of the Sunday Times journalist) – say she didn’t tell them, she’s out of luck unless she can provide evidence.

So what next for Huhne and his former wife? It’s looking like jail for the pair of them, together with a costs bill that may be of a non-trivial nature. The whole family has had its dirty laundry dragged through the press. Constance Briscoe is still being investigated, and her future as a judge looks distinctly shaky if she gets done for telling porkies to the rozzers.

Given that the speeding points episode happened in 2003, and the authorities had not found out by 2010, Ms Pryce may well consider the merits of letting those sleeping dogs lie. She’ll have plenty of time to make that consideration, and reflect that trusting a Murdoch journalist may not be the wisest course of action. No Bank of England MPC or House of Lords for her any time soon.

After all, their only consideration is getting the story. No change there, then.

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