Constance Briscoe, 55, was questioned over allegations that she lied to police during the investigation into whether former Cabinet minister Huhne asked his then wife Vicky Pryce to take his speeding points.
Miss Briscoe, a neighbour and friend of Pryce, told police she had not been in contact with newspapers about the story. But emails revealed the barrister and part-time crown court judge was in contact with a freelance journalist, Andrew Alderson, who was working for the Mail on Sunday.
Mr Alderson told the newspaper that Miss Briscoe was ‘determined to go for the kill’ against Huhne, who was then Energy Secretary in the Coalition Government.
In an email, the freelance journalist said Huhne would be forced to resign over the speeding points allegations and suggested he and a news editor on the paper should take the judge out for a ‘farewell to Huhne drink’.
The revelation about Miss Briscoe – one of Britain’s most prominent black judges – came on the second day of the retrial of Huhne’s ex-wife for perverting the course of justice.
The jury at Southwark Crown Court heard that Miss Briscoe was dropped as a witness because doubt had been cast on her ability to act as a ‘witness of truth’.
Andrew Edis QC, prosecuting, said Pryce and Miss Briscoe ‘cooked up a plan’ to leak the speeding points story to the Press in 2010 in revenge after Huhne left Pryce for his PR adviser Carina Trimingham.
Miss Briscoe was a neighbour of the couple in Clapham, south-west London, and became a close friend of Pryce after the acrimonious break-up, as she had also been abandoned by her partner. She acted as Pryce’s intermediary with the Mail on Sunday and arranged a meeting between Pryce and a news editor in her legal chambers.
The jury heard Huhne, 58, angrily denounced the judge as ‘batty’ as Pryce tried to catch him on tape confessing to forcing her to take the points on her licence.
He said: ‘Miss Briscoe has provided statements to the police in this case but during the investigation it became apparent that she may have lied about her involvement with the Press, in that she denied having any contact with the Mail on Sunday or any other media organisation in relation to this story.
‘Miss Briscoe has been arrested and is currently under investigation by the police. Miss Briscoe could therefore no longer be relied upon as a witness of truth.’
Detective Inspector Passmore said Mr Alderson and his news editor Dave Dillon were not called as witnesses because they had declined to give statements.
The court heard they were entitled to do so because ‘journalistic material’ was protected by law. There was no suggestion of any wrongdoing by the Mail on Sunday.
Pryce, 60, said she told the newspaper that Huhne had forced his constituency aide Jo White to take the three points so he would not lose his driving licence.
She now admits she took the penalty points herself in 2003 but denies perverting the course of justice as she claims she was forced to do so because of ‘marital coercion’.
Huhne is facing jail after he pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice. He has resigned as MP for Eastleigh and will be sentenced later.
The jury in Pryce’s first trial was discharged after it failed to reach a verdict. The retrial continues
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