Former Energy Secretary Chris Huhne and his ex-wife Vicky Pryce were both jailed for eight months today almost exactly a decade after he asked her to take his speeding points on her licence.
The disgraced Lib Dem is likely to spend the night in Wandsworth Prison, south-west London, after he admitted perverting the course of justice following a last-minute plea change a month ago.
Huhne, 58, wearing a dark suit and tie, remained motionless as he became the first former Cabinet minister since Jonathan Aitken to be sent to prison.
Pryce, 60, who wore a black jacket over a silver-grey top, also showed no emotion as she was sent to prison in front of a packed courtroom, which included Huhne's father and partner Carina Trimingham.
Sentencing them trial judge Mr Justice Sweeney said Huhne had lied 'again and again'.
He told Pryce, who is expected to spend tonight in Holloway prison, she had a 'controlling, manipulative and devious side'.
And he told the former couple: 'To the extent that anything good has come out of this whole process, it is that now, finally, you have both been brought to justice for your joint offence. Any element of tragedy is entirely your own fault.'
In an interview given hours before he was jailed, Huhne apologised for his actions and said he had hoped Pryce would be cleared by the jury for 'the sake of the family'.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the jailing was 'a personal tragedy', for Huhne, Pryce and the rest of their families.
Prime Minister David Cameron said Huhne's jailing was a reminder that no one, however powerful, was above the law.
Speaking at 10 Downing Street, Mr Cameron said: 'It's a reminder that no one, however high and mighty, is out of the reach of the justice system.'
The former couple sat four feet apart in the dock as the judge handed down their sentences.
He said: 'Offending of this sort strikes at the heart of the criminal justice system.'
He told Huhne he was somewhat more culpable for the offence.
He told the former MP he had committed a 'flagrant offence' of its type and said there were no exceptional circumstances.
Turning to Pryce, he told the economist she had been readily persuaded into taking points for her then-husband.
He said Huhne was a 'person who should not have been having a trial at all because he was guilty and was hoping to find evidence to undermine a witness on whose evidence - at least on this issue, who took the points - he knew perfectly well was true.
'It is not unfair to suggest that if that had succeeded the course of justice would in fact have been further perverted.'
Mr Edis added: 'In certain respects the conduct of his defence could properly be described as scandalous and a costs order could reflect that.'
In mitigation Huhne's QC John Kelsey-Fry said the former MP for Eastleigh was a man 'laid bare' who would 'cling-on to the support of his partner, friends and the hope of a reconciliation with his children,' adding: 'Nobody has ever lost more from such a small offence'.
SPINNING UNTIL THE END: HUHNE GIVES INTERVIEWS JUST HOURS BEFORE HE IS JAILED
In interviews to Channel 4 and The Guardian he said he felt 'awful that people I love have been dragged into this gruelling experience'.
But he insisted that he had never been a bully in his private life, despite former wife Vicky Pryce's claim that he coerced her into taking his speeding penalty points.
The disgraced ex-MP told The Guardian: 'I am sorry. I want to say that to family, to friends, to constituents and to colleagues, and more broadly to everybody who cares passionately about the causes I care about, including saving the planet for our children and our grandchildren.'
And he admitted to C4: 'I certainly lied and lied again, and part of it was about saving my career but it was also partly to try and avoid the consequences for my family.'
Mr Huhne acknowledged that he should have owned up to wrong-doing as soon as allegations were made, but said it was 'easy to rationalise' his initial denials by thinking that something would turn up to prevent 'a ridiculously small misjudgment' from destroying his career.
He accepted that his political career is 'very clearly over', but said he believed he had 'other things to offer, doing other things' in the future.
He also denied forcing Pryce to have an abortion, which the judge then agreed not to take into account when sentencing.
Mr Kelsey-Fry QC told the court: 'In 2003 Mr Huhne did wrong, it was a serious wrong, a crime considered serious because it strikes at the heart of the criminal justice system.
'They were his points, it was his idea to pass them to his then wife, and he persuaded her to do so when she was initially reluctant and he accepts that it was his fault.
'However, he did not force her, nor coerce her, nor bully her, nor was he overbearing.'
He apologised on Huhne's behalf to his 'friends and family, colleagues, to his former constituents and most importantly to the court' for not admitting the offence when it first came to light.
'The forgiving amongst us might recognise that in the 10 years since this offence Mr Huhne has of course achieved a great deal.'
He said even Huhne's political enemies accepted he was a 'dedicated, effective and hard-working' MP, and a 'very good and effective minister'.
Huhne's denials were the product of a 'natural instinct', he said, adding: 'Nevertheless he ought to have set such emotions on one side and come clean and he did not until much later and for that he apologises to all.
'Some will say, no doubt, "apologies are cheap", well in these circumstances they are not, actually,' he said, saying the situation had had 'catastrophic' consequences for the former MP.
He said some would have tried to 'brazen it out', sparking a 'bloodbath' of a trial, but suggested the judge 'may think his sense of decency prevailed and he fell on his sword'.
The court heard several references for the disgraced MP, including one constituent who dubbed him a 'true champion of the people', as well as one from Lord Maclennan.
Huhne had also maintained a 'dignified silence' despite his ex-wife presenting him 'as the kind of man that, those who know him well, do not recognise,' he said.
'Mr Huhne has suffered the very direst of consequences for this aberrant behaviour 10 years ago,' he told the court.
He said Pryce's 'distinguished career' had been seriously undermined, and she had resigned from her position at a City consultancy firm after last week's guilty verdict.
'A person who is convicted early in their life has the rest of their life to work hard so that the conviction fades into history,' he said.
'At Ms Pryce's age there may not be a huge number of opportunities open to her which will allow her to rebuild her career so that her conviction becomes part of her history.'
He said the mother-of-five had suffered a 'truly tragic personal life' in the past few years, and 'very real distress, strain and stress'.
'No wife should have to suffer what she suffered,' he added.
Mr Portes told BBC Radio 4's PM: 'Vicky Pryce is someone who I worked with for a long time in government, somebody who gave up a very lucrative career in the City to work as a public servant and a very distinguished public servant for 10 years. This seems to me to be harsh and unnecessary.'
Former Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik said the character traits which prevented Huhne from becoming party leader might have led to his downfall.
Mr Opik told BBC News channel: 'Chris's strength is also his weakness. He's a great analyst, he is very focused and he is very intelligent, but he pays for that with a lack of emotional intelligence and there's nothing he can really do about that.
Labour MP Simon Danczuk said: 'This is a sad end to a political career and I feel for all the members of the family affected.
'What did for him was not the offence but the lies he kept telling to keep the cover-up going. There's only ever one result if you adopt this approach in politics.'
MPs were relatively restrained in their reactions on Twitter.
Labour's John Mann tweeted: 'So many ex-MPs going to jail that the Scrubs should start having inmates manufacturing red dispatch boxes.'
Mr Mann added: 'A woman who took the points for her 17-year-old son pleaded guilty and got more than two years last year.'
Her decision to reveal their conspiracy to the national press did ruin his career but also led to her own conviction last week.
They sat next to each other in the dock but did not speak.
Huhne had an overnight bag with him while Pryce had her handbag which had the rose protruding from it.
Those in the court said that the warring former couple had both looked on the verge of tears and Pryce was handed a packet of tissues as she was sentenced.
Huhne had his sentence reduced by a month for his guilty plea, the judge said, and both will be released automatically after serving four months.
They were previously told to be 'under no illusion' about the sentence they face for perverting the course of justice.
Their prosecution has cost the taxpayer £120,000 so far and another £31,000 after Huhne ordered a corruption review, the court heard.
LOCKED UP: THE LIKELY NEW HOMES OF CHRIS HUHNE AND VICKY PRYCE FOR AT LEAST THE NEXT FOUR MONTHS
Huhne is likely to be taken to the 'Victorian hell hole' Wandsworth Prison, in south-west London, while Pryce is expected to be taken to Holloway prison in north London.
When Huhne arrives at Wandsworth he will be placed in a large reception cubicle - effectively a giant cage - with around 50 other prisoners from across the south east.
He will then be given the opportunity to make a telephone call and have a shower, before being fitted with standard issue prison clothes - blue jeans and a blue and white shirt.
Mark Leech, ex-convict turned prisons expert and editor of inmates newspaper Converse, believes Huhne will be deemed at risk to self-harm or even suicide and placed in the prison hospital.
After his mental health has been assessed as safe, he will be moved onto the main prison wing where he will share a cell with one or maybe two other prisoners.
Mr Leech expects Huhne to be mocked by his fellow prisoners and even by the prison staff - with jibes about his privileged background almost inevitable.