Guilty! Now Vicky Pryce and Chris Huhne both face jail
Spotlight turns to Lib Dem leadership as emails suggest Clegg and Cable 'knew about scandal'
VICKY PRYCE has been found guilty of perverting the course of justice after taking speeding points for her ex-husband, the disgraced Liberal Democrat MP Chris Huhne.
As the jury handed down its verdict at Southwark Crown Court this afternoon, the spotlight turned on the Lib Dem's leadership, as fresh questions were raised about whether senior party figures knew about "the cloud hanging over" Huhne before the speeding points scandal was made public.
The Guardian says that in emails shown to the court, which can now be reported in full, Pryce told Sunday Times political editor Isabel Oakeshott - with whom she was working to get the speeding points story "out there" - that she had told senior party members that a damaging story about Huhne was brewing.
The paper says it can now be revealed that Pryce claimed to have confided in Nick Clegg's wife, Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, and Business Secretary Vince Cable.
Pryce also says she discussed with "others working close to" Clegg that a scandal was about to engulf her former husband before it exploded in the press.
Asked about the emails today, a Lib Dem spokesman said: "Vince, Matthew and Miriam are all clear that the allegation about driving points was not raised with them."
Pryce, 60, initially denied the charge against her, relying on a defence of marital coercion - claiming her former husband forced her to take the points in 2003. A jury of seven men and five women rejected those claims today and handed down what is understood to be a unanimous guilty verdict.
Huhne has pleaded guilty to the same charge and the pair will be sentenced at a "later date". The maximum jail sentence that can be imposed for the offence is 36 months. The judge warned her to be under "no illusions" about her sentence.
Today's verdict follows two trials which "laid bare details of the couple's bitter marriage break-up, his infidelity, and her mission to 'destroy him' thereafter through the press", The Guardian says.
In an email dated 9 April 2011, Pryce admitted: "Actually I had told Vince [Cable] and Rachel [his wife] about points before when the three of us were having supper about a month ago – they were horrified at the time but VC has probably forgotten it by now. He was v tired that night."
On 18 April 2011, she informed Oakeshott: "Having lunch with Miriam c tmr. Should I hint at anything? I told Vince there is something hanging over him [Huhne] and he wanted to tell Clegg."
On 26 April 2011, Oakeshott asked Pryce: "To what extent is Clegg aware that something is hanging over Huhne (you mentioned it to Miriam, didn't you?)"
Pryce replied: "Yes, I have told VC, Miriam C, MOak … and a few other Lib Dem Lords and others working close to NC." MOak is Lord Oakeshott, a senior Liberal Democrat politician and a third cousin of the Sunday Times political editor.
The Guardian says sources close to Clegg added that Pryce did mention to Gonzalez as an aside at a business lunch with other people that Huhne had behaved very badly, but Gonzalez did not enquire further because she assumed Pryce was referring to the events in their personal lives. Gonzalez added: "I have never ever been told by Vicky or anybody else about the traffic points story. I got to know about this when everybody else did."
Pryce, a top economist who once worked for the government, pursued a press campaign to "nail" Huhne, the court heard, and the story was published in the Sunday Times on May 8, 2011, sparking a police investigation.
Huhne, 58, and Pryce were both charged with perverting the course of justice in February last year, forcing the then Energy Secretary to step down from the Cabinet to fight the charges.
He dramatically changed his plea to guilty on the first day of a joint trial with Pryce. He immediately resigned as Liberal Democrat MP for Eastleigh in Hampshire, ending his once promising political career. ·