1. ITV Report

Vicky Pryce trial: 10 questions asked by jury

Vicky Pryce was charged with perverting the course of justice Photo: Nick Ansell/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The jury in the Vicky Pryce trial at Southwark Crown Court asked the judge ten questions relating to the case.

The jury was subsequently discharged after failing to reach a verdict on a charge of perverting the course of justice.

The ten questions were:

1. You have defined the defence of marital coercion and also explained what does not fall within the definition by way of examples.

Please expand upon the definition, specifically "was will overborne".

Provide examples of what may fall within the defence, and does this defence require violence or physical threats?

The pressure applied by the husband need not involve violence or physical threats.

The law requires that a husband was present and coercion was to such an extent that she was impelled to commit an offence because she truly believed she had no real choice but to do so.

– Mr Justice Sweeney

2. In the scenario where the defendant may be guilty but there is not enough evidence provided by the prosecution at the material time of when she signed (the penalty notice letter) to feel sure beyond reasonable doubt, what should the verdict be: not guilty or unable/unsafe to provide a verdict?

The judge said they could convict only if at least 10 of them were sure Pryce was guilty.

If for whatever reason any one or more of you feel less than confident that you understand and are able to apply my directions of law, then it will be wholly wrong for any juror in that position to reach a verdict one way or the other.

If after further consideration you find yourselves in a position that you are simply not able to agree, no matter how much longer you continue to debate, and that's going to remain the position, then you must of course have the courage to say so by your foreman sending me a note to that effect.

– Mr Justice Sweeney

3. If there is debatable evidence supporting the prosecution's case, can inferences be drawn to arrive at a verdict?

If so, inferences/speculation on the full evidence or only where you have directed us to do so eg circumstantial evidence, lies, failure by Vicky Pryce to mention facts to the police.

The judge said no.

The drawing of inferences is a permissible process, speculation is not.

– Mr Justice Sweeney

4. Can you define what is reasonable doubt?

A reasonable doubt is a doubt which is reasonable, these are ordinary English words that the law doesn't allow me to help you with beyond the written directions I have already given.

– Mr Justice Sweeney

5. Can a juror come to a verdict based on a reason that was not presented in court and has no facts or evidence to support it either from the prosecution or defence?

The judge said no. He added that while they were entitled to draw inferences from reliable facts, they could not speculate.

6. Can we infer anything from the fact that the defence did not bring witnesses from the time of the offence such as au pair, neighbours?

You must not, as I have now emphasised many times, speculate on what witnesses who have not been called might have said or draw inferences from their absence. Her evidence is that no one else, other than Mr Huhne, was present when she signed the form.

– Mr Justice Sweeney

7. Does the defendant have an obligation to present a defence?

There is no burden on the defendant to prove her innocence. On the contrary, there is no burden on the defendant to prove anything at all.

– Mr Justice Sweeney

8. Can we speculate about the events at the time that Vicky Pryce signed the form, or what was in her mind at that time?

The judge again said "no", and while they could draw inferences they could not speculate.

There is a difference between speculation, which is not permitted, and inference, which is the drawing of common-sense conclusions from the facts of which you are also sure. Speculation is guesswork.

That is not the same as inference at all.

– Mr Justice Sweeney

9. Your honour, the jury are considering the facts provided but have continued to ask the questions raised by the police.

Given the case has come to court without answers to the police's questions, please advise on which facts in the bundle the jury shall consider to determine a not guilty or guilty verdict.

You decide the case on the evidence.

That means it is for you to review all of the evidence and decide which of it you consider to be important, truthful and reliable, and then decide what conclusions, common sense conclusions, you can safely draw by way of inference from that evidence.

It's not part of my function – because I am the judge of the law, not, as you are, the judges of the facts – to tell you which piece or pieces of evidence are important and which are not.

– Mr Justice Sweeney

10. Would religious conviction be a good enough reason for a wife feeling that she had no choice, ie she promised to obey her husband in her wedding vows and he had ordered her to do something and she felt she had to obey?

The judge said the question was not about this case, and Pryce had not suggested any such reasoning was behind her decision to take Huhne’s points.