By Lauren Grice
The jury trying Vicky Pryce, the ex-wife of former minister Chris Huhne, has been discharged after failing to reach a verdict on its fourth day of deliberations.
Presiding judge Mr Justice Sweeny dismissed the jurors after being passed a note that claimed it was “highly unlikely” that they could unanimously agree on whether Pryce was guilty of perverting the course of justice.
Her prosecution began after it came to light that former Liberal Democrat cabinet member Chris Huhne had falsely claimed his wife was responsible for a speeding offence from 2003.
Despite admitting to taking the penalty points on behalf of her husband, Ms Pryce pleaded not guilty to the charge – suggesting she had been coerced into this course of action.
Earlier in the day, the jury had sent a list of 10 questions to Mr Justice Sweeney, which indicated opposing views on whether or not she had been pressured into taking the blame for the speeding offence.
“Against the background of the length of time that you have been in retirement already, I have decided therefore, and it is my decision one way or the other, that I must discharge you from any further deliberations,” he said.
In March 2003, Chris Huhne’s car was caught by a speed camera on the M11 motorway and it is claimed that Ms Pryce lied to police about driving the vehicle so that her then-husband could avoid a driving ban.
Earlier in the month, Chris Huhne pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice over the issue and stepped down as representative for Eastleigh in Hampshire. He changed his plea to guilty on the first day of his trial at Southwark Crown Court and could face jail as a result of the offence.