Pryce faces speeding points retrial as jurors fail to reach a decision
Vicky Pryce will face a retrial on Monday with a new jury after the previous appointees failed to reach a verdict. Their dismissal came after hours of deliberation and ten submitted questions regarding their task.
Ms Pryce had been on trial facing the charge of perverting the course of justice. It is alleged that she took responsibility for a speeding offence committed by her disgraced ex-husband Chris Huhne over a decade ago.
Huhne, who has pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice, will not be sentenced until Ms Pryce’s trial has reached its conclusion.
Mr Justice Sweeney criticised the “absolutely fundamental deficits in understanding” of the eight women and four men on the jury regarding the case, saying he had never before come across such circumstances.
Prosecutor Andrew Edis, QC, showed concern regarding the nature of the questions being asked. He indicated it would be “ultimately unlikely” that any verdict could be considered safe or secure.
Questions asked included whether or not marital coercion had to include “a violent or physical act” when the jury had allegedly already been informed this wasn’t the case.
Edis said: “Overall the picture is not reassuring as to the extent to which the jury has truly understood its task”.
However, the jury system itself has not come under fire. Lord Woolf, who previously held the position of Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales for five years, said: “I certainly would not want to condemn our well-tried jury system on the basis of one particular case”.
Ken Macdonald, former director of public prosecutions agreed: “I think it’s the greatest strength of our system that we bring citizens, members of the public into our heart”.
The trial will continue next week.