The phone-calls between Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce taped by the Sunday Times in bid to stand up story - Press Gazette

The phone-calls between Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce taped by the Sunday Times in bid to stand up story


Vicky Pryce recorded four phone calls to her ex-husband Chris Huhne as she tried to get him to admit points-swapping for a speeding offence took place in 2003 and provide proof for the newspaper story about the scandal, a court has been told.

They were recorded with the help of Sunday Times political editor Isabel Oakeshott some time around April 2011, a jury at Southwark Crown Court heard.

During the calls, in which Pryce claimed to be worried about attention from journalists, she tried to get her former husband to admit she took his speeding points.

He consistently denied it – apparently aware of the "set-up" – and advised her not to talk to reporters if she did not want stories about her to get out.

A sometimes-furious Pryce was heard demanding where the story had come from, swearing on occasions as well as making digs about Huhne's new partner, PR adviser Carina Trimingham, referred to her as "your f***ing man" and suggesting she was the source of the leak.

In the first call, as she complained about journalists outside her house, Huhne told her: "Can I suggest if you want to stop journalists door-stepping you, you stop telling ridiculous stories to the press."

Pryce denied it was anything to do with her – although it later emerged it was she who had taken the story to the press.

In a second call, she again denied telling anyone about the points-swapping as she sought a confession from Huhne.

"Why would I tell anyone about me taking your points? It's not in my interests, are you a moron?" she asked him angrily.

He replied: "It is not in anyone's interests that you should tell nonsense to the papers."

Pryce insisted "you know full well that I took your points" but her former husband avoided confirming her claims.

In the heated exchange, Pryce demanded to know where the story had come from, making Huhne swear that "f***ing man" Ms Trimingham did not know about the incident.

Huhne went on to tell her: "For heavens sake, I absolutely deny you took my points."

Huhne, a former journalist himself, told Pryce that reporters' queries meant they were often trying to stand up the story.

But she told him their "entire family" knew she had taken the points, and threatened to tell journalists the "truth".

Huhne's retort was that the truth was that Pryce was "maliciously briefing the press" to ruin his political career, at one point telling her: "You are behaving in an entirely unbalanced way."

Pryce told Huhne she was "prepared possibly to lie" for him, adding: "We used to be husband and wife, I took your points for you and you know that full well.

"I am prepared to lie for you as I've done all along, but they are pressurising all the f**king time, I can't even get through the front door, whether it's to do with your f**king man, or to do with your f**king points.

"So just tell me what the f**k to go outside and say to them."

In another conversation, Huhne advised Pryce not to take calls from Ms Oakeshott, saying: "They have no story and they cannot have a story unless you give it to them.

"There's no reason for you to give them a story because it isn't true."

He told Pryce not to tell "false stories" and compared the situation to "rubbing Aladdin's lamp", adding: "It's very, very simple, if you don't want to appear in the newspapers, don't talk to journalists."

Pryce replied: "This story is a true story and somebody knows and somebody is telling people." He dismissed her fears as "absolute cobblers".

In a fourth call, Pryce was worried the story had not been "killed" but Huhne said the newspapers could not stand it up, which was why it had not run.

He advised Pryce: "I would have thought you wouldn't want to talk to Isabel Oakeshott because frankly all she is interested in is the political line.

"She's not a business journalist, she's not an economy journalist, she can only bring you downside.

"There's no upside to talking to her from your point of view, there's only a potential downside."

Huhne said he refuses to get embroiled in conversations with journalists in case something got "twisted".

"My strong advice, if you're in the same position as me and you want the story not to get in, then the best way to do that is not to talk to a journalist who's working on the story, and that's what I would do."

Pryce voiced concerns about compromising herself if the truth comes out, saying calls often come from withheld numbers, saying: "I have to be careful because the last thing I want to do is for it to come out and I have actually perjured myself or whatever the f**k it is that you do."

Huhne warned her that she could find herself being contacted by the DVLA or the police if a "half-baked" story ran, to which she replied: "It's one of the things that's always worried me when you made me take them in the first instance."



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