By Catherine Ross
Oh Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce. It’s a story that has made me chuckle for quite some time now. They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but in this case the scorned woman implicated herself in her attempts at retribution and has ended up with a prison sentence and a criminal record.
To be perfectly honest, that is the point at which the story stops being amusing.
For those who have missed the hundreds of pages of newspaper coverage and hours of TV and radio broadcasts, former Lib Dem MP, Chris Huhne, persuaded his then wife, Vicky Pryce, to take penalty points on his behalf in a bid to avoid losing his driving licence.
He subsequently went on to accumulate more speeding points and lost his driving licence anyway. So far, so funny (though simultaneously dangerous and illegal).
Following this debacle, Huhne started an affair with his press officer and he and Pryce divorced. Very acrimoniously.
In a bid to get her own back, Pryce decided to try to leak the story of the mis-attributed speeding points through a national newspaper in a bid to discredit her MP husband.
It all came out in court. Emails about how she wanted to “nail him” and similarly unedifying revelations.
After three trials, one for Huhne, two for Pryce – the first jury didn’t entirely understand how to reach a verdict – both were found guilty of perverting the course of justice.
Pryce claimed marital coercion, attempting to invoke an archaic defence where women were once absolved of their sins by “doing what their husbands told them to”. This law is so out of date, in fact, it was recommended for repeal as early as 1977. Something tells me it is not much longer for our statute books.
Huhne and Pryce have both been sentenced to eight months in prison. With immediate effect. Not suspended sentences, but actual hard time.
My mind boggles. To my mind, prison is for dangerous offenders who pose a risk to society, not ridiculous, irresponsible people. Surely this is exactly the kind of case that lends itself to a community-based sentence.
Huhne’s own party and its coalition partners are all for volunteering and helping the local community. Couldn’t Huhne and Pryce’s time be better spent collecting litter, cleaning public conveniences and generally contributing to the society they tried to rip off than languishing in prison?
Does anyone really benefit from the pesky pair being detained at her majesty’s pleasure?