The lawyer for Chris Huhne’s ex-wife, Vicky Pryce, has suggested that she should have been treated as a victim or witness, insisting that marital coercion is still a relevant defence in the modern era.
Pryce was jailed for eight months alongside Huhne on Monday for falsely taking the penalty for a speeding offence he committed a decade ago. Her solicitor, Robert Brown, said they are actively considering whether to appeal.
Pryce’s reliance on the rare defence of marital coercion led some commentators to criticise it as antiquated and call for it to be scrapped but Brown said that it was important to protect women who were vulnerable to pressure.
“If we abolish this defence of marital coercion, where does it leave these women?” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday.
He added: “I think that more careful consideration could have been given to whether she [Pryce] should have been treated as a defendant or whether, in light of a lot of the evidence, she should have been considered as a victim or witness.”
In apparent support of the suggestion that Pryce, 60, was a victim, Brown pointed out that government policy on domestic violence did not limit the definition to physical violence. “In the modern era women are still vulnerable in many situations,” he said.
During his mitigation speech Pryce’s barrister, Julian Knowles QC, made it plain she still maintained she had been pressured into taking three driving licence points for Huhne.
The judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, was clearly sceptical, praising the jury for their decision and saying Pryce had “a controlling, manipulative and devious side” to her nature.
Pryce, currently in Holloway prison, has 28 days to decide whether to appeal.
Meanwhile Huhne, who is in Wandsworth prison, was ridiculed on his first day in jail when a warder called him to breakfast shouting: “Order! Order!”, the Sun reported.
The prison officer reportedly mimicked the Commons speaker by adding over the PA system: “The right honourable member for Wandsworth North – down to the office.”
Other prisoners at the south-west London jail were said to have roared with laughter as the former energy secretary went from his cell to pick up the meal. The newspaper also reported that 58-year-old Huhne has been moved to a wing for vulnerable prisoners because other convicts humiliated and bullied him.
He is said to have asked to be moved to the special area after prisoners discovered he was a millionaire and badgered him for cash.
Vicky Pryce should have been treated as victim, claims her lawyer – The Guardian
Top Stories – Google News