Vicky Pryce Yet to Decide if She Will Appeal Against Sentence, Lawyers Say

Prison Window

Vicky Pryce, jailed alongside her former husband, Chris Huhne, for falsely taking the penalty for a speeding offence he committed a decade ago, has yet to decide whether she will appeal against her eight-month sentence, her lawyers have said.

"She has not made a decision. When she has, the court will be the first to know," said her London-based solicitors, Corker Binning. Pryce has 28 days to decide, and the process would necessarily be slowed by her detention in Holloway prison, they added.

The pair were given identical jail terms for perverting the course of justice on Monday afternoon following a sentencing and mitigation hearing at which they spent almost three hours sitting just over a metre apart in the dock without acknowledging the other's presence.

While Huhne, 58, the former energy secretary, pleaded guilty last month just before the start of a scheduled joint trial, Pryce, a 60-year-old economist, denied the charge using the rare defence of marital coercion. After an initial trial failed to reach a verdict she was convicted last week. 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 and Huhne could both be out of prison within two months under home detention curfews. The former MP is in Wandsworth prison in south-west London, where, according to the Times, his cell reading will include Joseph Conrad, Charles Dickens and Hilary Mantel, although not a Honoré de Balzac book he tried to buy, which he had planned to read in English and French, as his local Waterstone's did not stock it.

A former Liberal Democrat colleague in the European parliament said the couple were likely to endure a particularly difficult time in prison due to the scale of their public notoriety.

Chris Davies, still an MEP, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The difficulty for Chris is he's so much in the public spotlight. For Vicky and for him it's not just going through a court case, having to live with the sentence and the punishment, it's having been in the stocks for such a long period of time, on the front pages of newspapers.

"They wake up not just having a sentence to serve in prison but, as the best-known prisoners in the place and having to go through all that – the difficulty of catcalls and the like."

The pair's first full day in prison is exactly 10 years since the incident that sparked their downfall. Shortly before 11.30pm on 12 March 2003, Huhne was caught by a speed camera on the M11 in Chigwell, Essex, as he returned to the family's south London home from Stansted airport. Facing a driving ban due to accumulated points just as he was campaigning to become the Liberal Democrats' parliamentary candidate for Eastleigh in Hampshire, Pryce agreed to say she was the driver.

After seven years of silence and complicity, Pryce approached newspapers about the offence when Huhne announced he was leaving her for his PR adviser, Carina Trimingham, ending a 26-year marriage.

At Southwark crown court on Monday the judge said the pair had fallen from "a great height" but expressed no sympathy. He said: "To the extent that anything good has come out of this whole process, it is that now, finally, you have both been brought to justice for your joint offence. Any element of tragedy is entirely your own fault."

Powered by article was written by Peter Walker, for on Tuesday 12th March 2013 14.25 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010