Vicky Pryce: I had no choice but to take Huhne points

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Media captionRecordings of conversations between Ms Pryce and Mr Huhne have been made public

Chris Huhne's ex-wife Vicky Pryce has told a court she had "no choice" but to take his speeding points in 2003.

Ms Pryce, 60, said when Huhne asked her to take the points she gave a "resounding no" but weeks later she received a letter addressed to her as the "nominated driver" and "exploded".

She told Southwark Crown Court he told her: "You've got to sign this now."

Ms Pryce denies perverting the course of justice. Huhne admitted the charge on Monday and has resigned as an MP.

Former Liberal Democrat cabinet minister Huhne and Ms Pryce, an economist, were charged over an incident in March 2003 when his car was caught by a speed camera on the M11 motorway between Stansted Airport in Essex and London.

It is alleged that between 12 March and 21 May 2003, Ms Pryce falsely informed police that she was the driver of the car so Huhne could avoid prosecution.

'What's going on?'

Ms Pryce, giving evidence at her trial, said in 2003 Huhne told her he had been caught speeding but could not afford further points on his licence.

"If he took the extra points he would be disqualified from driving and that was of course at a time when he was seeking the nomination for Eastleigh [as MP]," said Ms Pryce.

Image caption Vicky Pryce has pleaded not guilty to perverting the course of justice

She went on: "I knew, of course, immediately that I had not driven the car and, of course, had not incurred the penalty.

"But also I resisted. I had absolutely no wish to take on his points because I knew full well he was a very, very fast driver... had brought it on himself."

Ms Pryce said the couple rowed for weeks about the issue, but then it "went quiet".

Shortly after, a letter arrived with her named as the nominated driver, she said.

"I exploded… and said 'what is going on?' I said 'I am not doing this, I am not signing anything, these are not my points'," Ms Pryce said.

After leaving the letter in their hallway, a few days later she said she was called downstairs where Huhne was standing at the table with the forms.

Ms Pryce said he had a pen in his hand "and was saying 'You've absolutely got to sign this now. If you don't, the implications will be considerable. It's ridiculous you're not signing it, just sign it here'".

Ms Pryce said her name had already been filled in and she just had to give a signature.

"I looked at this and realised I had absolutely no choice. I was already nominated. It looked like a complete fait accompli for me and for him," she told the jury.

She said she had been "worn down" and signed despite "protesting".

'Caught with mistress'

Earlier, Ms Pryce recounted details of the couple's 26-year marriage, which ended in 2010 when Huhne told her he was having an affair with PR adviser Carina Trimingham.

"He said, 'I have something to tell you. A newspaper has caught me with a mistress and I have to write a note to say that we are separating'," she told the court.

Image caption Chris Huhne admitted perverting the course of justice on Monday

"I was really shocked."

Huhne told her it had been going on for a year and a half but he had not planned to tell her until their youngest son had gone to university - 18 months later.

He told her he had 20 minutes to write a statement, then left the house to go to the gym, she said.

"At no time was there an apology or any concern about what it would mean for us," she said.

"He ran out, with us [Pryce and her son] following behind, and said, 'And don't talk to the papers'.

The mother-of-five, who has three children with Huhne, said some of the children have not kept in touch with him and one changed his name.

She said later descriptions of her in the press as a "scorned wife" had upset her.

"All I had done was be married to this person," she told the court.

Greek-born Ms Pryce earlier told the court Huhne had pressured her into having an abortion in 1990 because it was "bad timing".

"Despite my protestations, he got me to have an abortion, which I have regretted ever since," she said.

'Serious position'

Sunday Times political editor Isabel Oakeshott also gave evidence.

Ms Oakeshott said Ms Pryce had revealed to her in 2010 that she had taken his speeding points and they discussed how Huhne's secret could become a story.

Ms Pryce said she "never thought he would resign" over the points.

She said she wanted people to know his true character.

"He had a very serious position in cabinet and somehow I felt people didn't know what he really was like," she said.

The trial continues.

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