LONDON, May 13 – Britain’s disgraced former energy minister Chris Huhne and his ex-wife were both freed from prison on Monday after serving a quarter of their eight-month sentences for swapping speeding points.
Huhne, 58, and his former spouse Vicky Pryce had been jailed in March for perverting the course of justice, after she took penalty points on her driving licence in 2003 so that her then husband could avoid a driving ban.
Pryce, a Greek-born 60-year-old economist, revealed the points swap in 2011 in a bid to get revenge at Huhne after he left her for his publicist — but the plan backfired and resulted in her being jailed herself.
The former power couple were pursued by packs of press photographers as they left their prisons on Monday.
Huhne, who once ran for the leadership of the Liberal Democrats, junior partners in Britain’s coalition government, left Leyhill Prison in Gloucestershire, southwest England, by the main entrance in a silver car.
His ex-wife emerged from East Sutton Park Prison near Maidstone in Kent, southeast England, via a back exit.
Their case gripped Britain’s political class as the ugly tale of their marital breakdown played out in the courtroom.
Huhne abruptly left Pryce for his aide Carina Trimingham just after the May 2010 general election that saw the centrist Liberal Democrats enter a coalition with Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives.
Huhne and Pryce had been married for 26 years and she is mother to three of his children. They divorced in 2011.
Pryce apparently became obsessed with destroying her ambitious ex-husband’s political career and the court heard that she cooked up a plot to “nail” him by revealing the speeding points scam.
Allegations that Huhne passed speeding points to an unidentified person ran in two British newspapers in May 2011. Huhne and Pryce were both arrested and were charged with perverting the course of justice in February 2012.
Huhne stood down from the cabinet last year to fight the allegations. He resigned his seat in parliament on February 5 after pleading guilty.
Pryce unsuccessfully used the defence of marital coercion, claiming Huhne pressured her into taking the points.
Both Pryce and Huhne will have to wear electronic tags as a condition of their early release.
Offenders serving short prison sentences in Britain are eligible for early release on a home detention curfew, with the exception of those convicted of violent or sexual crimes.