Vicky Pryce: Most women jailed due to men in their life

Vicky Pryce Vicky Pryce adopted a defence of marital coercion at her trial

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Most women in Holloway prison are there because of something the men in their life have done, recently jailed Vicky Pryce has told the BBC.

The former wife of ex-minister Chris Huhne was sentenced to eight months for perverting the course of justice after taking speeding points for him.

"I did something, I paid the price," she told Radio 4's Today programme.

The economist - who had claimed her husband coerced her - has written a book about the economics of prison.

Her royalties from the book will go to the charity Working Chance, which helps women with criminal convictions find work.

Pryce, who was recently stripped of her Companion of the Order of the Bath, served two months in the north London prison earlier this year.

Some women "were victims themselves" before they committed an offence, says Pryce

Huhne, the former energy secretary, was also jailed for the same offence.

He left Pryce in 2010 as his affair with PR adviser Carina Trimingham was about to be exposed.

During the former couple's trial, the court heard Pryce had revealed the speeding points scandal to newspapers in 2011 to seek revenge.

Asked whether she agreed with Chris Huhne's assessment that they had fallen victim to the Murdoch press, she said: "I don't begrudge anyone in terms of what's happened - or any of the journalists frankly - in my view one has to just look forward.

"I did something, I paid the price of it and that is it."

'Learn from it'

On the prospect of going to prison, Ms Pryce said she knew it was "something I simply had to survive and perhaps learn from it obviously, and see what goes on".

The worst aspect of prison life was "losing my liberty, but mostly worrying about my children - that they would be worried about me and how do I react to ensure that they feel that 'actually I'm ok'.

"And of course that meant that I also had to stay strong."

Holloway Prison Vicky Pryce spent part of her sentence in HMP Holloway in north London

On the claim in her book that many women in Holloway were there mostly because of something their husbands, brothers and fathers had done, she said: "Clearly they knew what they were doing but it didn't mean that they necessarily wanted to do what they did.

"Vulnerable women who often have lost their self esteem - they could be prostitutes, they could be people who are stealing to feed their, but also their other-half's, drug habits.

Start Quote

There's been a huge increase in the numbers of prisoners, although crime is going down”

End Quote Vicky Pryce

"More than 50% of women who enter jail have been physically, sexually, or emotionally abused. And those are statistics quoted by everybody.

"Of course you are [responsible for your actions] and they were. The thing to remember is that they were very vulnerable at the time they were doing it and they remain vulnerable.

"The interesting thing is that jail doesn't do anything to take that away from them and they leave prison after a while, go back into society and they find themselves in exactly the same position and they re-offend."

She said there had been surprises, such as Holloway's reception area which meant she hadn't felt "threatened" by entering it. "It felt that somebody worried about you," she said.

On how well the prison system was coping, she said: "There's been a huge increase in the numbers of prisoners, although crime is going down.

"The causality doesn't work that way. The causality works in a way that says in fact crime has been reducing because of things to do with technology - making it difficult to break into houses, difficult to break into cars - and all that sort of stuff, and yet the numbers have been going up very, very significantly.

"Women in particular, the numbers have gone up by 27% between 2000 and 2010, while crime has been coming down.

"It makes no sense at all. The costs are enormous. There are so many cheaper ways to deal with this whole issue, which is what the Prisonomics book is all about."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 930.

    While the statement that many women in jail have suffered abuse in their lives in undoubtable true, the same is true for men. I would say most men in prison have grown up in abusive households so I don't see this as a gender issue

  • rate this

    Comment number 929.

    What a headline!!

    Most woman are jailed because they have done and committed a crime, end of!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 928.

    In response to all the critics, I suggest that she is not arguing for sympathy here, merely that these woman should be given the tools whilst they are in prison that will enable them go back into the outside world with more resilience, to avoid them becoming vulnerable again in the future.

  • rate this

    Comment number 927.

    I actually think her 'campaign' against Domestic Violence is actually doing more harm than good, and to be fair is a total insult to those who have suffered DV.
    My ex works in the Probation Service dealing with DV and the stories I've heard make your blood boil.
    Did VP suffer DV? I doubt it, but many women and men do, don't insult them by trying to show yourself as the victim.

  • rate this

    Comment number 926.

    The statement "This is simply because most judges happen to be men."

    Is a bias opinion. The stament is saying that all male judges are bias against women because they are men. That is a sexist bias.

    no it isnt - most judges are men, its judges that send people to jail, so therefore every woman thats in jail is there because of a judge, most of which are men.
    simple logic, just not relevant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 925.


    Perverting the course of justice shouldn't be an imprisonable offence? Even when the guilty person has fabricated a spurious defence of marital coercion and thereby wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayer's money? You think we should send out a message that it's no big deal?

    There are plenty of examples of questionable sentencing, but this isn't one of them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 924.

    @909. SallyPlanetZog
    Believe me I don't doubt the interesting and indeed important nature of the subject, her using it to rehabilitate herself in celeb land doesn't sit well though, and that is let's face it what she is doing. If she truly cared about it, she'd have published under a respected umbrella organisation, say the Howard League maybe.

    But nope. She's publicity hungry :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 923.


    Actually the statement "most judges happen to be men." is stastistical fact. The statement "This is simply because most judges happen to be men."

    Is a bias opinion. The stament is saying that all male judges are bias against women because they are men. That is a sexist bias.

    The judge may have been bias to, but because he's sexist not because he's a man.

  • rate this

    Comment number 922.

    894, 3 letters ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 921.

    Rehabilitation means coming to terms with how and why they did it. If a group of friends, or a partner, was a significant negative influence on their life - leading them into drugs or casual crime - then it's no good ignoring it, sending them back out and straight back to that influence. It needs to be addressed so that the person feels able to cut that influence out of their lives for good.

  • rate this

    Comment number 920.

    Oh dear, oh dear. Ms Pryce is now trying to excuse her own dishonesty by seeking to align herself with those genuinely unfortunate women who find themselves forced into criminality by the men in their lives. How dare she. She is nothing like those women. She did what she did of her own free will. And chose to lie about it when it suited her.

  • Comment number 919.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 918.

    By saying that women are not responsible for their own mistakes, she has done a great dis-service to women.

    Women know when they're breaking the law. They are no different to men.

  • rate this

    Comment number 917.

    "The economist - who had claimed her husband coerced her - has written a book about the economics of prison."

    Not milking it for all she can get then? Good of the BBC to give here some richly undeserved publicity...

  • rate this

    Comment number 916.

    drkim 894. Go on please argue, "that most men are jailed due to women", I'm fascinated to know your theory

  • rate this

    Comment number 915.

    That's right, it isn't anyone's fault for anything. I am thinking of 2 words. Foxtrot Oscar, if you catch my drift.

  • rate this

    Comment number 914.

    Oh how we all laughed when this vindictive, decietfull woman was jailed for being proved a liar. Now we can all laugh again as she makes a complete ass of herself whilst trying parry any blame for any female crime towards the male sex! She really is a laugh a minute, all she is missing is a big red nose & some over size shoes!

  • rate this

    Comment number 913.

    How much did the BBC pay this criminal to spout this self-serving claptrap?

  • rate this

    Comment number 912.

    I would expect that Ms Pryce is correct for the majority of imprisoned women, owing to them being poorly educated, having a deprived background and low self-esteem. However, I do not feel that these criteria apply to her, making her actions much worse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 911.

    Oh dear. Here we go again with the "poor little me" syndrome. The prison officer who expresses empathy not sympathy is smack on the money here. Isn't this just another example of the shameless shifting of blame and the refusal to accept responsibility for one's own actions? Do what you do and accept the consequences - end of.


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