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  1. ITV Report

Vicky Pryce to use 'marital coercion' defence

Chris Huhne and his ex-wife Vicky Pryce appearing at the City of Westminster Magistrates court in February this year. Photo: Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Vicky Pryce, the estranged wife of former energy secretary Chris Huhne, has denied perverting the course of justice by taking a speeding penalty for her former husband.

Mr Huhne did not enter a plea as he is applying to have the charge dismissed. The pair stood sat side by side in the dock together but did not make eye contact during the appearance.

Mr Huhne is accused of persuading Ms Pryce to take responsibility for his penalty points for a speeding offence which occurred in 2003. His car was allegedly caught by a speed camera on the motorway between Stansted Airport in Essex and London. Ms Pryce is accused of falsely informing police that she was driving the car, so that her husband could avoid prosecution. She will use the defence of "marital coercion."

The "marital coercion" argument is rarely used and quite antiquated according to legal experts, but apparently relatively easy to prove in court.

Accusations of the alleged offences only came to light in 2010, when it emerged that the father of five had been having an affair with is press advisor Carina Trimingham, and the couple separated.

Both defendants were released on unconditional bail until a pre-trial hearing on a date to be fixed, probably next month.

Perverting the course of justice carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

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