Feature

United Kingdom: A public marital breakdown

A prominent British power couple is going to jail—and all for three speeding points on a driver’s license.

Caroline Davies
The Guardian

A prominent British power couple is going to jail, said Caroline Davies. Their reputations are ruined and their children humiliated—and all for three speeding points on a driver’s license. The tale began 10 years ago, when Chris Huhne, then a British member of the European Parliament and rising star in the Liberal Democrat party, was caught by a camera speeding on his way home from the airport. To avoid political scandal, he pressured his wife, Vicky Pryce, to claim she was driving. Pryce, a top private-sector economist, went along with the deception until 2010. That’s when Huhne, by then a cabinet minister, was caught in an affair by the press. Pryce’s “vengeful response” to his ending their marriage of 26 years was to rat on him about the speeding. With a reporter’s aid, she tried to entrap him into admitting to it, in a series of accusatory phone calls that made her look shrewish and him weaselly. Ultimately, both were convicted of perverting the course of justice and sentenced to eight months in prison each. This “most bitter of marital breakdowns” has so many elements of tragedy—“naked ambition, hubris, infidelity, and vengeance.” Alas, it lacks the most important one: “There is no hero or heroine here.”

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