Vicky Pryce to serve part of sentence in Holloway Prison

Vicky Pryce's guarded escort arrives at Holloway Prison. Image: Alina Polianskaya
Vicky Pryce’s guarded escort arrives at Holloway Prison. Image: Alina Polianskaya

Vicky Pryce has become the newest resident of Islington after being jailed for eight months, a sentence that she will serve in part at Holloway prison.

However, her husband, Chris Huhne, the disgraced former minister who lived in a £1.2m Clerkenwell flat with his former aide turned lover, Carina Trimingham, has left the borough.

He was transferred from Southwark Crown Court, where the couple were sentenced this afternoon, to Wandsworth prison, where he will remain for several weeks of his eight-month sentence.

Ms Pryce, 60, will spend the night at HMP Holloway, a women’s prison in Islington, before being transferred to a lower security facility to serve out the remainder of her sentence.

The judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, said the couple had worked together to pervert the course of justice during the investigation that former Liberal Democrat MP had his wife take speeding points on his behalf in 2003.

“You thought you would get away with it,” he said. “You got away with it for eight years.” Speaking directly to Huhne, he added: “The truth, as you well knew, was that Ms Pryce had taken the points and you were guilty.”

Turning to Ms Pryce, he condemned her complicity in the lie, describing her personality as “devious and controlling”. He said Mr Huhne was “somewhat but not greatly, in my view, more culpable” before sentencing her to eight months for the same crime of perverting the course of justice.

Julian Knowles QC, the defence lawyer for Ms Pryce, was unsuccessful in his appeal for a suspended sentence for his client due to “specific and unique” circumstances, including her age, her government service, and her “truly tragic” personal life. In response, the judge said: “Any element of tragedy is entirely your [Ms Pryce’s] own fault.”

Image: Alina Polianskaya
Image: Alina Polianskaya

But Nick Freeman, a criminal defence lawyer who specialises in speeding-related offences, told the BBC that the couple would probably only serve a “matter of weeks inside” before being sent home to serve the rest of their sentence with a curfew.

In addition to their time in prison, the Crown’s prosecution lawyer, Andrew Edis QC, said the couple should be made to repay the costs of the trial, which were £79,014 for Mr Huhne and £38,544 for his ex-wife. A later hearing has been arranged to decide how the costs will be covered.

According to the Prison Reform Trust, Ms Pryce’s time at Holloway will begin in the reception area of the facility, where she will be briefed on her stay and given her uniform.

She will then be searched, her personal belongings stowed away, and given a prisoner number. At some point in the evening, she will be given the opportunity to call her family, and to bath or shower before spending her first night behind bars.

As the second-largest women’s prison in Europe, Holloway has a mixture of single cells and dormitories to house its 500 or so inmates. The prison declined to comment on the type of room allocated to Ms Pryce.

The van enters the prison. Image: Alina Polianskaya
The van enters the prison. Image: Alina Polianskaya

However, there is likely to be little choice available for the former head of the UK’s Government Economic Service. In the last prison census, Holloway was shown to house more inmates than it was certified to hold in 2011/12.

Conditions have improved in the once vermin infested prison over the last two decades, but an inspection in 2010 found that nearly 60 per cent of inmates felt unsafe, with an above average numbers of threats and intimidation. The same Department of Justice review noted 35 incidents of self-harm each week.

Ms Pryce will join a long list of criminals to have spent time at the facility, including serial killers Rose West and Maxine Carr, the girlfriend and accomplice of notorious murderer Ian Huntley.