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Ex-wife claims coercion by Huhne

AFP-JIJI

The former wife of disgraced former British Climate Change Minister Chris Huhne told her trial Thursday that he put pressure on her to admit a speeding offense on his behalf.

Vicky Pryce said she refused point-blank when Huhne asked her to take the speeding points, but a few weeks later she received a letter nominating her as the driver and “exploded.”

Greek-born Pryce, a 60-year-old senior economist, said that when she refused to sign the letter and admit the offense, he told her, “‘It’s ridiculous you’re not signing it, just sign here’.”

The political career of Huhne, a leading light in the Liberal Democrat government coalition partners who narrowly lost in the contest to lead the party, is in tatters after he changed his plea to guilty in the case Monday. He faces a prison sentence.

The case concerns an incident in March 2003 when Huhne’s BMW was allegedly caught by a speed camera as he traveled between Stansted Airport, near London, and the capital. The prosecution says Huhne was driving but wanted Pryce to admit the offense because he had previous speeding offenses and would have been banned if he had taken the speeding points.

The jury has heard how emails between Pryce and a journalist described her as wanting to “nail” her ex-husband, and the court was played four phone calls where Pryce tried to get Huhne to admit the offense.

Giving evidence Thursday, Pryce gave details of the couple’s 26-year marriage, which ended in 2010 when Huhne told her he was having an affair with bisexual PR adviser Carina Trimingham.

Huhne announced the affair as the couple watched a World Cup match. “At no time was there an apology or any concern about what it would mean for us,” she said.

Huhne has said he will resign his parliamentary seat in Eastleigh in southeast England, triggering a by-election that could exasperate the tensions in the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition.