Pryce jury given majority direction

News Shopper: Vicky Pryce denied perverting the course of justice on the grounds of marital coercion Vicky Pryce denied perverting the course of justice on the grounds of marital coercion

The jury in the trial of Chris Huhne's ex-wife Vicky Pryce for perverting the course of justice has been told it can reach a majority verdict.

The panel of eight women and four men at Southwark Crown Court, which has been deliberating for nearly 14 hours, was told by Mr Justice Sweeney that they can reach a verdict on which at least 10 of them agree.

Pryce, 60, admits taking speeding points for former Cabinet minister Huhne a decade ago but pleads not guilty on the grounds of marital coercion, saying he forced her. Her ex-husband is facing jail after pleaded guilty to the offence on the first day of their trial.

The offence dates back to 2003 when Huhne's BMW was clocked speeding on the way back from Stansted Airport.

Pryce told the court he forced her to take the points to avoid losing his licence.

The alleged offence became public in May 2011, after Huhne left Pryce for PR adviser Carina Trimingham in 2010, ending their marriage. The court heard it was Pryce, of Crescent Grove, Clapham, south London, who revealed the story to newspapers.

Huhne, 58, stepped down from the Cabinet to fight the charges but changed his plea on the first day of trial.

The court heard that the jurors have put 10 questions to the judge, including: "Can a juror come to a verdict based on a reason that was not presented in court and has no facts or evidence to support it, either from the prosecution or defence?." They also asked: "Can you speculate about the events at the time Ms Pryce signed the form or what was in her mind at that time?" The judge told them the answer to both questions was a firm "no", and said while they could draw inferences they could not speculate.

Justice Sweeney told them: "There is no burden on the defendant to prove her innocence. On the contrary there is no burden on the defendant to prove anything at all."

Asked by jurors to define "reasonable doubt", he said: "A reasonable doubt is a doubt which is reasonable. These are ordinary English words that the law doesn't allow me to help you with beyond the written directions that I have already given."

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