Constance Briscoe guilty of lying in Chris Huhne case
- 1 May 2014
- From the section UK
Barrister and part-time judge Constance Briscoe has been found guilty of lying to police probing ex-cabinet minister Chris Huhne's speeding points case.
The 56-year-old was accused of lying in the inquiry into Huhne, who got his wife to take speeding points for him.
Briscoe had denied at the Old Bailey three counts of intending to pervert the course of justice.
She will be sentenced on Friday. Trial judge Mr Justice Baker said a custodial sentence was "almost inevitable".
Now, a BBC investigation has learned Briscoe is facing a further criminal inquiry about her actions during a libel case brought against her by her mother.
In the Old Bailey case, Briscoe was found guilty on three counts.
The first charge alleged that, between 16 May 2011 and 6 October 2012, she provided police with two inaccurate statements, and the second that on October 6 2012 she produced an altered copy of a statement but claimed it was the correct version.
A third charge alleged that between 5 October 2012 and 8 October last year she deliberately got a document expert to view the wrong version of her witness statement.
Briscoe stood trial at London's Southwark Crown Court in January but a jury failed to reach verdicts on any of the counts.
A retrial was ordered which has been heard at the Old Bailey.
Jurors were told that Briscoe helped Huhne's wife Vicky Pryce, who was a friend and also her neighbour, to reveal information about Huhne's points-swapping to newspapers after the couple split in 2010.
The scandal led to Huhne's resignation and subsequent prosecution.
He pleaded guilty in February last year to perverting the course of justice. Pryce was convicted after a trial in which she had denied the same offence.
Huhne and Pryce, who are now divorced, were both jailed last year and have since been released from prison.
When the allegations emerged in 2011, Briscoe made a witness statement to police on 31 May of that year claiming Pryce confided in her in 2003 after she found out that Huhne had asked her to take his speeding points, portraying herself as an "independent and objective" witness.
In a second statement on 16 August 2012 she denied having any contact with journalists or newspapers about the story but emails obtained by court order ahead of the Huhne-Pryce trial showed that she had spoken to journalists.
Once her involvement was revealed, Briscoe was dropped as a witness in Huhne and Pryce's trial and she was arrested in October 2012.
The jury heard that Briscoe, a barrister with many years' experience, was intent on bringing about Huhne's downfall and knew how to manipulate the criminal justice system to her advantage.
Briscoe denied deliberately misleading police, saying it was always clear she had spoken to journalists by the fact her name was used in newspaper stories about the speeding points.
Speaking outside court, senior investigating officer Det Ch Insp John McDermott, of Kent Police, said the verdict showed no-one was "above the law".
He said: "In her roles as a recorder, judge and as a barrister, if anyone should understand the importance of preserving public justice, it should be Constance Briscoe.
"In failing to co-operate with police, she very nearly had a detrimental impact on the convictions of two other people in relation to a historic speeding offence.
"Had it not been for the hard work of the officers in these cases, the offenders may never have been convicted.
"The overwhelming evidence uncovered by officers meant the jury had no choice but to find Ms Briscoe guilty. Today shows that no-one is above the law and perverting the course of justice is a serious offence."
In a statement, Huhne said Briscoe had been revealed as a "compulsive and self-publicising fantasist".
A spokesman for the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) said it would "invite Ms Briscoe to make representations as to why she should not be removed from the judiciary.
"A report will then be submitted to the Lord Chief Justice and Lord Chancellor for their consideration.
"Ms Briscoe will remain suspended from the judiciary pending the conclusion of the JCIO process."
Meanwhile. the Metropolitan Police said it was reviewing documents received from the BBC relating to allegations about the libel case.
A spokeswoman said: "We were contacted in September last year regarding an allegation of fraud, which relates to documents that were allegedly fraudulently obtained from Southwark Council. The matter is being investigated by Lewisham CID."
"In April this year, we received information from the BBC in relation to that investigation and that's being reviewed."