As the case of Vicky Pryce showed today marital coercion, a little used defence available only to married women and dating back to 1925, may be of little assistance in repudiating a criminal charge. Indeed there have been many calls for it to be repealed and today’s verdict will have done little to justify its continuing existence.
Vicky Pryce’s defence to a charge of perverting the course of justice was of course that she was coerced by Chris Huhne, her philanderer of a husband, to accept speeding points on her licence when he in fact was the driver of the car. Sadly the speeding offence happened way back in 2003 but when Mr Huhne left her in June 2010, Ms Pryce appears to have sought her revenge. She went to the Press and it seems somewhat effectively and as a result has destroyed not only her husband’s career as an MP but also now her own as an economist. They are both waiting what will potentially be sentences of imprisonment.
As a divorce lawyer it is common to come across clients who are so embittered by the lot they have been thrown that they embark on a spiral of self-destruction. Whilst the vitriol may be aimed at the estranged spouse, ultimately it harms them both.
If there is any lesson that can be drawn from the evidence given in court at this trial, it surely has to be that you do yourself no service by washing dirty linen in public. Further and if you have both behaved dishonestly and in contravention of the law then do not expect that you can stitch him up without also facing the consequences yourself.