UK

Chris Huhne loses challenge to costs of speeding points trial

Chris Huhne Image copyright PA
Image caption Prosecutors had claimed more than £100,000 from Huhne, who admitted perverting the course of justice

Former cabinet minister Chris Huhne has lost a legal challenge over court costs incurred during his trial for swapping speeding points with his former wife.

The ex-Liberal Democrat MP went to the Court of Appeal to challenge an order that he should pay £77,750 in costs.

Three judges rejected his case at a hearing in London and £1,279 was added to the order to cover appeal costs.

Huhne and ex-wife Vicky Pryce were sentenced to eight months in prison for perverting the course of justice.

Prosecutors had originally claimed more than £100,000 from Huhne, who pleaded guilty in February 2013.

The costs order was originally made in May by Mr Justice Sweeney at Southwark Crown Court, who rejected an offer made by Huhne's legal team's of £25,000.

Pryce was handed a court order of £49,200, which has been paid.

'Rotten apple'

At the Court of Appeal hearing, Huhne's barrister Richard Wormald argued that a delay in the investigation of its central witness had slowed the case and run up costs.

The witness - part-time judge Constance Briscoe, who was later jailed for trying to pervert the course of justice - was a "rotten apple in the crown's barrel", he said.

However, prosecution barrister Oliver Glasgow claimed former MP Huhne had brought it all on himself. He said the costs would not have been as high if he had pleaded guilty sooner.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Huhne, who served two months of an eight-month prison sentence, was released on 13 May 2013

"Mr Huhne sought to play the system and he lost," he added.

"It was a gamble he took and it was a gamble he knew if he lost would cost him dearly."

Rejecting all grounds of challenge, Lord Justice Davis, said Mr Justice Sweeney had "reached a conclusion as to what was just and reasonable which was open to him".

Penalty points

The former climate change secretary last year admitted to asking his ex-wife to take his speeding points to avoid losing his licence. Pryce was convicted of agreeing to do so.

The pair were charged over an incident in March 2003, after Huhne's BMW car was caught by a speed camera on the M11 motorway between Stansted Airport, in Essex, and London.

He was an MEP at the time and in danger of losing his licence, having already accrued nine penalty points.

During Pryce's trial, the prosecution alleged that she had chosen to take the points but later plotted to expose Huhne after he revealed he was having an affair with an aide and ended the couple's 26-year marriage.

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